Location: University of Toronto (U of T)
The Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP) drives research at the interface of engineering and medicine. With a roster of multidisciplinary investigators, the goal is to develop strategies that will repair or regenerate heart muscle.
This U of T program embeds a diverse range of engineers and scientists in one environment with the same mission – a rare opportunity to make fundamental discoveries into the mechanisms of heart failure and new ways to diagnose and treat it.
TBEP is a consortium of labs, each with its own principal investigator, research staff, and students supporting projects aligning with the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research mission. While these researchers collaborate on projects with colleagues at The Hospital for Sick Children, University Health Network, and elsewhere, they also collaborate within TBEP creating bridges of expertise between labs.
Launched in late 2015, this program has specific areas of focus designed to make the most significant advances in research possible.
Regenerating the heart
Regenerating a failing heart to its former function is the ultimate treatment goal. TBEP researchers are studying how to deliver cells, molecules and biomaterials into the heart for regeneration. This also means ensuring that they will work once inside the heart, necessitating a cardiac environment that is amenable to these cells. TBEP researchers can modify such environments to make them more supportive of cell delivery, perhaps creating a biomaterial that helps those cells function in the heart. Or if there is scar tissue, our scientists can develop strategies to break down the scar and deliver the cells effectively.
The heart has an innate ability to repair itself, but it’s lost over time. This is how we can teach it to remember. We can also study what went wrong in a failing heart, and either stop or reverse the process.
Enabling discovery through advanced model systems
TBEP is a center for heart failure model systems. Our scientists have broad expertise in animal models of heart failure and disease and in tissue models that replicate the actual conditions within human heart muscle, valves, and blood vessels. Model systems are critical to understand how heart failure occurs and to evaluate therapies.
Currently, enormous funds and time are spent studying medications in plastic dishes that do not replicate the body’s actual physiological conditions. The animal models and tissue models that TBEP engineers and scientists are building will lead to more relevant, translatable and real results. As these model systems will provide medical researchers with advanced environments to test their novel ideas and uncover the most promising avenues to diagnosing, preventing and treating heart failure.
For more information please contact Soror Sharifpoor, research program manager.