The NSF Engineering Research Center in Cellular Metamaterials – CELL-MET – is designed to stimulate translation of research to practice by facilitating worldwide corporate, clinical, and institutional partnerships. CELL-MET—with Boston University as the lead institution— aims to transform cardiovascular care by combining breakthroughs in nanotechnology and manufacturing with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, while also developing areas of expertise in education, diversity, administration, and outreach.
CELL-MET will use the latest multiscale 3D printing technologies to engineer scaffolds that guide cells to assemble into complex tissues that exhibit desired behaviors. The scaffolds will incorporate actuators to apply dynamic electrical and mechanical signals as well as cellular “glues” that include biological signaling molecules, all of which can be chosen to foster desired activity of the cells and tissue. The researchers will also employ optogenetics and other imaging techniques to monitor and control cellular activity. The ultimate goal is to fabricate personalized heart tissue that could be used in the shorter term to test the efficacy of drugs and eventually to replace diseased or damaged muscle after a heart attack.