Research that has the potential to change how we think about disease and aging is happening at IBBME. Regenerative medicine uses stem cells and biomaterials to repair, replace or regenerate damaged tissue, organ structures and function.
Designing regenerative medicine to treat degenerative diseases
More than 50 researchers from the University of Toronto and its partner hospitals are collaborating as part of U of T’s Medicine by Design initiative to enhance fundamental discoveries and develop new therapies to treat degenerative diseases.
Led by IBBME professor Peter Zandstra with a historic $114-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, this initiative fosters multidisciplinary collaboration among medical professionals, researchers and students to solidify Canada’s position as a leader in regenerative medicine, cell therapy discovery and translation.
“Medicine by Design is already catalyzing new interactions, not just between engineering and medicine, but also mathematics, basic science, business and other fields. This exciting multidisciplinary approach leverages the breadth of innovation occurring across the University. Instead of limiting problem solving to a specific discipline, we look at the problem and ask: Who can best contribute to the solution? We then bring those people together as a team to try to do that.” —Professor Peter Zandstra
Advancing treatments for heart failure
Professor Craig Simmons leads an interdisciplinary team of eight researchers and their students from U of T Engineering, Medicine and Dentistry to advance discoveries and accelerate new treatments for heart failure and cardiovascular disease.
As the scientific director of the Translational Biology & Engineering Program (TBEP), the U of T arm of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research (TRCHR), he brings together experts in engineering and medicine to uncover mechanisms of disease, develop new diagnostic tests for early detection, and create therapeutic strategies using molecules, cells and biomaterials to regenerate heart tissues.
The goal: improve the lives of one million Canadians with heart failure and reduce the estimated $3-billion cost to our health-care system.
Growing heart and liver tissue for safer drug testing and more
Professor Milica Radisic’s team works on growing human tissue in artificial environments as platforms for developing and testing new drugs, and with the potential to one day, repair or replace damaged organs.
Their creations have included Biowire™, a method of growing heart cells around a silk suture, “Hook-in-Tissue,” a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together like Velcro®, and AngioChip, a system built in a normal cell culture dish that allows lab-grown heart and liver tissue to function and interact like the real thing.
Today, the team is already working on commercializing these technologies through TARA Biosystems Inc., a spinoff company co-founded by Radisic.