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Annual BBQ June 2013.
The focus of the Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Research Group (CAVAREM) is in Regenerative Medicine.
We aim define new modalities for the intervention and prevention of cardiovascular diseases through the organ-specific application of stem/progenitor cells and "smart biomaterials". The design of these biomaterials is guided by the results of our investigations on the organ-specific microenvironment and the molecular and cellular pathways involved in (patho)physiological tissue repair.
General introduction - Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine
Organ and tissue damage, as the result of ischemic insult, fibrosis, or other, requires adequate repair i.e. regeneration. Regeneration of tissue damage is a complex process that involves inflammation, wound healing and remodeling. This process comprises of a microenvironment in which an intricate interplay of cells, mediators and extracellular matrix accomplish regeneration. The post-damage microenvironment of tissues requires a stringent regulation, without which adverse reactions (e.g. fibrosis) may develop. In several cardiovascular diseases, tissue damage may extend beyond the intrinsic repair capacity of the human body. Therefore, Regenerative Medicine aims at the regeneration of damaged tissues or organs by employing and augmenting physiological regeneration mechanism by application of stem/progenitor cells, mediators and "smart biomaterials".
The application of stem/progenitor cells requires appropriate guiding factors that provide instruction to these cells upon their administration in vivo, or their use to construct replacement tissue in vitro. A good understanding of the in vitro and in vivo plasticity of stem cells, in presence or absence of the post-damage microenvironment, will help the development of better regeneration therapies. In vitro, the construction of replacement tissue requires instructive 3-dimensional scaffolds that help to recreate the original tissue architecture, i.e. genuine tissue engineering. By themselves the biomaterials that are used to make scaffolds (e.g. solid or gel-like materials) elicit an inflammatory reponse upon implantation: the Foreign Body Reaction (FBR). The FBR can also be employed to augment regenerative therapies.