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Engineered Myocardium as Disease Models

Myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, is one of the most common causes of death worldwide. The immediate action taken after a heart attack is to reoxygenate the infarct tissue by restoring blood flow. However, the sudden flow of oxygen-rich blood to the ischemic area induces oxidative stress and often results in further cell death causing reperfusion injury which can lead to the death of the patient. A detailed understanding of the progression and prevention of reperfusion injury is yet to be discovered. This phenomena is mostly investigated using animal models, however, there are often discordances between animal studies and clinical trials due to differences in human and animal physiology and pathology. As an alternative approach Zorlutuna lab fabricates 3D myocardial tissue models that allow precise control over the culture conditions. Using these model tissues we investigate the role of paracrine interactions between heart muscle cells and human induced pluripotent stem cell derived endothelial cells as well as the role of cell-ECM interactions on escaping reperfusion injury.