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The main research focus of the CETE (Cardiac Electrophysiology & Tissue Engineering) research group is the burgeoning field of cell-based therapies in which different cells, either alone or in combination with therapeutic molecules or biomaterials, are transplanted into the human body to restore the function of damaged or diseased organs. With the rapid advancements in basic stem cell research, this interdisciplinary field holds great potential to revolutionize the treatment of various human diseases. Within this field, the main goal of our research has been the development of novel stem and somatic cell-based therapies for heart and skeletal muscle disease and injury, and the treatment of abnormal cardiac rhythms (arrhythmias).
Specifically, in the CETE research group, the field of muscle cell and tissue engineering and the field of electrophysiology are synergistically and uniquely combined by: 1) applying a variety of cell, tissue, and genetic engineering techniques to develop novel model systems for basic studies of muscle electromechanical function in vitro, and 2) performing different electrical and mechanical studies to guide and evaluate the tissue engineering design of functional bioartificial muscle for therapeutic use in vivo. To date, the main impact of this work has been to provide the research community with innovative in vitro approaches to control the architecture and cellular composition of engineered muscle tissues at different spatial scales, and importantly, using these approaches to gain deeper insights into tissue structure-function and composition-function relationships in cardiac and skeletal muscle. The novel experimental tools that we have developed and validated in the last 5 years will be extensively exploited in our future studies to further understand the determinants of normal and abnormal muscle function, study the intricate processes of cardiomyogenesis, and explore the potential of stem cell-based and tissue engineering therapies for the treatment of different muscle diseases, cardiac infarction, and arrhythmias.