Careers & Students

Tissue engineering a tissue ‘flap’

Tissue engineering a tissue ‘flap’

PhD/Honours project

Providing a functional capillary network connected to the blood circulation is a major hurdle in engineering of tissues and organs. The Vascular Biology Group at St Vincent’s Institute is researching techniques to improve the vascularization of tissue engineering constructs.

We have assembled pre-vascularized scaffolds in the laboratory, by seeding human induced pluripotent stem cell derived endothelial cells (iPSC ECs) into a porous scaffold, with the formation of an interconnected human capillary network within 24 hours. When implanted in vivo into a wound this pre-vascularized scaffold provides an additional human capillary network particularly required by ischemic/chronic wounds. Post implantation, human capillaries in the scaffold functionally join (inosculate) to adjacent host tissue capillaries within 2-3 days and host blood then flows through the scaffold capillaries.

An alternative approach where blood flow would commence in a far shorter period throughout the scaffold/wound is possible if the pre-vascularized scaffold capillaries are connected via vascular connections to a large blood vessel (termed a vascular pedicle). The vascular pedicle is then connected via microsurgery to large host vessels in vivo.  This composite construct, a vascular pedicle connected to a capillary network is termed a tissue flap. We will investigate under culture conditions the connection of a large human blood vessel (either excess vessels provided from vascular surgery operations, or by 3D printing or moulding a large human blood vessel) to the pre-vascularized scaffold. The project will involve cell culture, in vitro assembly of human capillary networks in scaffolds and vascular connection to a large blood vessel, and animal implantation studies where morphology/immunohistochemistry/morphometry, vascular perfusion techniques and a variety of imaging techniques will be used to analyse the scaffolds.

Supervised by:

  • A/Prof Geraldine Mitchell
  • Disease Focus:

  • Cancer
  • Research Unit:

  • Vascular biology