Heart Research Australia has funded a PHD scholarship program for Dr Chris Roche working with Dr Carmine Gentile.
Dr Roche, is a cardiac surgical trainee and has brought surgical skills and insights to the team supervised by Dr Gentile – a bioprinting expert who is working towards producing heart patches made of special ‘bio-ink’. Together, their project aims to regenerate parts of the heart that have died following a severe heart attack and help heart failure patients. The ‘bio-ink’ uses individualised stem cells taken from blood or skin samples which are then converted to beating heart cells.
Together, Dr Roche and Dr Gentile are working to optimise this bioprinting technique. The next phase of their project will use a bioink called GelMA. This is a high-tech bioink to use in the bioprinter and needs a special UV light to link molecules together to make it strong after it has been used to print a patch (i.e. when it is used to make a patch it becomes stronger after it is exposed to UV). Stem cells are difficult to work with, requiring intensive work and expertise to culture them correctly and make them turn into heart cells. To do this, the team are working with a scientist from StemCell Technologies, Vancouver. This is an exciting phase of the project. If they can make patches from GelMA and put heart cells from human stem cells inside the patches, this will be a significant achievement.
Dr Roche is working to significantly advance the field of cardiac tissue bio-engineering. This project is at the forefront of research in this subject area globally and is, ultimately bringing us closer to being able to provide a paradigm shifting solution for heart failure patients.
Dr Roche was also the recipient of a recent award at the New Horizons 2019 Conference. This conference showcases how basic science, health and biotech can benefit patient outcomes and provide for healthy lives for our community. Heart Research Australia congratulate Dr Chris Roche and his supervisor Dr Carmine Gentile on this wonderful achievement.
Dr Chris Roche and Dr Carmine Gentile recently published the first two years of work optimising their heart patches in the laboratory and you can find it here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2021.636257/full “