Dr. James Hammel, MD

Cardiovascular Regeneration: Human Heart Valve Prosthetics

 Dr. James Hammel, MD

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are a population of non-hematopoietic adult stem cells that originate from immature embryonic connective tissue (ie. the umbilical cord) or within the stroma of bone marrow. They are pluripotent cells that are capable of differentiating into many cell types such as endothelial, vascular smooth muscle, bone, and fat cells as well as connective tissue.   These cells are easily maintained and expanded in culture while still maintaining their pluripotent nature. 

These qualities make MSCs a prime candidate for tissue engineering and regenerative therapies.  Dr. Hammel and his research group are taking a regenerative and bioengineering approach in an attempt to create a novel model for prosthetic heart valves.  By combining various cell types, culture conditions, scaffold material, and protocols, they hope to create a heart valve that will harbor the needs of the heart in a growing child.  To achieve their goal of creating a MSC matrix that can replace a valve while still maintaining anti-coagulation, viability, pliability, repair, and somatic growth capabilities they will collaborate with Drs. Linxia Gu and Kevin Cole, engineers in the Mechanical and Material Engineering Department at  UNL                 

 Dr. Hai Li Lang

Dr. Hai Li Lang

Dr. Hai Li Lang, a research physician working in Dr. Hammel’s laboratory, is using her knowledge and expertise within the lab to further this project.  Dr. Lang will be testing the various cell types to determine which environments are best suited to grow, form, and generate functional tissue valves.  To evaluate the matrix capabilities they will utilize histological techniques, tensile and elasticity testing, and cardiac simulation testing within a bioreactor, a flow apparatus.