Stem Cell Orchestra: interactive didactic animation for cardiac tissue engineering
Snyder, Shawna Rose
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A potential treatment of heart failure from myocardial infarction is to replace damaged tissue with a cardiac patch, a bioengineered construct of cardiomyocytes and stem cell-supported capillaries grown on a bioscaffold. Tissue engineers must have a thorough understanding of the cues that guide multiple cell types to form functional tissue. As the field of cardiac tissue regeneration develops novel protocols for stem cell-based therapies, visualizations that didactically convey in vitro spatiotemporal cell-cell interactions become increasingly important to provide to students and the general scientific community. An interactive web-based animation and educational module, Stem Cell Orchestra, was designed and developed to introduce students to case-based examples of biomedical research that are directly related to fundamental tissue engineering principles. A conceptual flowchart was created to establish the navigational structure of the module and connections between educational topics. The module focused on visualizing the development of a cardiac patch as a model bioengineered tissue through the creation of a 3D animation depicting cell-cell interactions within a cardiac patch. Animation content was derived from confocal microscopy and transmitted light microscopy datasets in combination with the results of a literature review of current cardiac regenerative medicine techniques. The educational module presents the 3D animation within the context of supplemental educational material on mechanotransduction cues related to cardiac patch development. This interactive animation platform introduces students to examples of primary research and accurately showcases tri-culture of a cardiac patch from cardiomyocyte elongation and synchronization to the formation of endothelial capillaries supported by the novel human adipose derived stem cells. Supplemental material contextualizes mechanotransduction presented within the animation. This project resulted in the development of a novel workflow and educational module that can be expanded to include additional tissue engineering concepts.