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Junior Professorship for Digital Surgery and Interdisciplinary Technology Research
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F. Claussen, J.M.G.V. Gassner, S. Moosburner, D. Wyrwal, M. Nösser, P. Tang, L. Wegener, J. Pohl, A. Reutzel-Selke, R. Arsenic, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok published their trecent work on "Dual versus single vessel normothermic ex vivo perfusion of rat liver grafts using metamizole for vasodilatation" in PLoS One 2020;15(7): e0235635.

Normothermic ex vivo liver perfusion (NEVLP) is a promising strategy to increase the donor pool in liver transplantation. Small animal models are essential to further investigate questions regarding organ preservation and reconditioning by NEVLP. A dual vessel small animal NEVLP (dNEVLP) model was developed using metamizole as a vasodilator and compared to conventional portovenous single vessel NEVLP (sNEVLP).

Livers of male Wistar rats were perfused with erythrocyte-supplemented culture medium for six hours by either dNEVLP via hepatic artery and portal vein or portovenous sNEVLP. dNEVLP was performed either with or without metamizole treatment. Perfusion pressure and flow rates were constantly monitored. Transaminase levels were determined in the perfusate at the start and after three and six hours of perfusion. Bile secretion was monitored and bile LDH and GGT levels were measured hourly. Histopathological analysis was performed using liver and bile duct tissue samples after perfusion.

Hepatic artery pressure was significantly lower in dNEVLP with metamizole administration. Compared to sNEVLP, dNEVLP with metamizole treatment showed higher bile production, lower levels of transaminases during and after perfusion as well as significantly lower necrosis in liver and bile duct tissue. Biochemical markers of bile duct injury showed the same trend.

Our miniaturized dNEVLP system enables normothermic dual vessel rat liver perfusion. The administration of metamizole effectively ameliorates arterial vasospasm allowing for six hours of dNEVLP, with superior outcome compared to sNEVLP.

Development of GelMA/PCL and dECM/PCL resins for 3D printing of acellular in vitro tissue scaffolds by stereolithography
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Gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) is a chemically modified extracellular matrix (ECM)-derived biopolymer that is widely used for 3D fabrication of tissue engineering scaffolds. However, its tendency for physical gelation limits its use in aqueous 3D printing resins to low concentrations, yielding a poor printing resolution in stereolithography (SLA).
To obtain a GelMA-based resin that can be printed into high-resolution tissue scaffolds, we formulated resins of fish and porcine-derived GelMA in formamide using GelMA alone or mixed with star-shaped poly(ε-caprolactone) methacrylate (PCL-MA). We identified GelMA resins and GelMA/PCL-MA hybrid resins with a ratio of 70/30 wt-% to yield a suitable viscosity for SLA at 32 °C and demonstrated the resolution of the new resins in SLA by 3D printing acellular human small intestine-mimicking tissue scaffolds. The presence of PCL-MA in the hybrid resins improved the 3D printing fidelity compared to the neat GelMA resins, while GelMA provided the hybrid materials with enhanced swelling and proliferation of seeded cells. We further demonstrated the transferability of our resin formulation to native organ-derived materials by successfully replacing GelMA in the hybrid resin with solubilized, methacryloyl-functionalized decellularized liver ECM (dECM-MA) and by 3D printing multi-layer dECM/PCL-MA hydrogels.

"Development of GelMA/PCL and dECM/PCL resins for 3D printing of acellular in vitro tissue scaffolds by stereolithography" was published in Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2020 Jul;112:110958. Authors are L. Elomaa, E. Keshi, I.M. Sauer, and M. Weinhart.
Junior Professorship for Digital Surgery and Interdisciplinary Technology Research
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The Department of Surgery of the Charité (Director: Prof. Dr. Johann Pratschke) at the Charité Center 8 (CharitéCenter for Surgery) invites applications for the position of the Junior Professorship for Digital Surgery and interdisciplinary Technology Research (Salary Group: W1 BBesG-ÜfBE, non-tenured) with the reference number: Prof. 546/2020.

The initial appointment is for three years with the optional extension for another three years follow-ing successful evaluation. It is aimed to turn the Junior Professorship into a W2-Professorship (Salary Group: W2 BBesG-ÜfBE) after six years.The successful candidate has to fulfill the appointment requirements in accordance with § 102a of the Berlin Higher Education Act (Berliner Hochschulgesetz, Gem. § 102a BerlHG) and needs to credibly demonstrate through his/her previous scientific work that he/she is able to fulfill the expectations of the junior professorship.

One of the tasks of this Junior Professorship is the appropriate representation of the research area mentioned above. Within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity – Image Space Material, he/she is expected to evaluate, accompany and advance the digital transformation in surgery and related disciplines as well as expand the repertoire of methods and initiate innovations. In cooperation with the research areas Cutting and Material Form Function of the Cluster of Excellence, new surgical cutting techniques are to be investigated and developed. It is planned to be linked to the currently being established institutions, The Simulated Human Being (Si-M) and the Berlin Simulation and Training Centre (BeST). In addition to the tasks mentioned, the following three fields of activity are to be covered:

Interdisciplinary Knowledge Transfer

  • Implementation of new applications from areas such as deep learning, extended reality (mixed and virtual reality) or robotics in surgical practice requires an intensification of interdisciplinary cooperation
  • Continuous exchange between industry and practice as well as with adjacent disciplines (e.g. Radiology)
  • Integration of a growing number of applications and competencies from areas outside established medical technology, e.g.game design, computer science or human factor studies

Technology Assessment

  • Sustainable implementation of digital technologies through opportunity and risk assessment
  • Advising the Department of Surgery on investment decisions through appropriate risk and media competency

Innovation

  • Identification of concrete application locations and practices of digital surgery within the clinic and experimental research (e.g. use of technologies in the context of biomedical research approaches to organ replacement as well as oncological models) for future Living Labs and to demonstrate these to the public
  • Integration of users, research projects and start-ups also outside the Clinic

The successful candidate will be engaged in teaching activities of the medical education curriculum at Charité, supervise Master and Doctoral candidates, and participate in academic self-organization. In addition, the candidate should present concepts for a good supervision of doctoral students as well as for the integration of his/her research activities into the teaching of the Charité. Appointment requirements are governed by article 102a of the Berlin Higher Education Act (Berliner Hochschulgesetz:§ 102a BerlHG). Completed university degree in Natural Sciences, Humanities and/or Life Sciences or any other related field of Medicine or non-medicine is required. In addition, a Doctorate (Ph.D and/or M.D.) and significant post-doctoral experience are required. Basic medical knowledge is desired.

The Charité is an equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity. As women are under-represented in academics, we explicitly encourage women to send in their application. Women will be given preference over equally qualified men (within the framework of the legal possibilities). We value diversity and therefore welcome all applications – regardless of gender, nationality, social background, religion or age. Equally qualified applicants with disabilities will be given preference.

Written applications according to the format specified on https://career.charite.de/am/calls/application_notes.pdf should be submittedby June 19th, 2020 under https://career.charite.de. For further questions on details, please contact Prof. Dr. Igor Maximilian Sauer.
Hepatocyte transplantation to the liver via the splenic artery
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Hepatocyte transplantation (HcTx) is a promising approach for the treatment of metabolic diseases in newborns and children. The most common application route is the portal vein, which is difficult to access in the newborn. Transfemoral access to the splenic artery for HcTx has been evaluated in adults, with trials suggesting hepatocyte translocation from the spleen to the liver with a reduced risk for thromboembolic complications. Using juvenile Göttingen minipigs, we aimed to evaluate feasibility of hepatocyte transplantation by transfemoral splenic artery catheterization, while providing insight on engraftment, translocation, viability, and thromboembolic complications. Four Göttingen Minipigs weighing 5.6 kg to 12.6 kg were infused with human hepatocytes (two infusions per cycle, 1.00E08 cells per kg body weight). Immunosuppression consisted of tacrolimus and prednisolone. The animals were sacrificed directly after cell infusion (n=2), 2 days (n=1), or 14 days after infusion (n=1). The splenic and portal venous blood flow was controlled via color-coded Doppler sonography. Computed tomography was performed on days 6 and 18 after the first infusion. Tissue samples were stained in search of human hepatocytes. Catheter placement was feasible in all cases without procedure-associated complications. Repetitive cell transplantations were possible without serious adverse effects associated with hepatocyte transplantation. Immunohistochemical staining has proven cell relocation to the portal venous system and liver parenchyma. However, cells were neither present in the liver nor the spleen 18 days after HcTx. Immunological analyses showed a response of the adaptive immune system to the human cells. We show that interventional cell application via the femoral artery is feasible in a juvenile large animal model of HcTx. Moreover, cells are able to pass through the spleen to relocate in the liver after splenic artery infusion. Further studies are necessary to compare this approach with umbilical or transhepatic hepatocyte administration.

"Hepatocyte Transplantation to the Liver via the Splenic Artery in a Juvenile Large Animal Model" was published in Cell Transplantation.
Authors are J. Siefert, K.H. Hillebrandt, S. Moosburner, P. Podrabsky, D. Geisel, T. Denecke, J.K. Unger, B. Sawitzki, S. Gül-Klein, S. Lippert, P. Tang, A. Reutzel-Selke, M.H. Morgul, A.W. Reske, S. Kafert-Kasting, W. Rüdinger, J. Oetvoes, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok.
TEBURU – our latest bioreactor system
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Three‐dimensional tissue cultures are important models for the study of cell‐cell and cell‐matrix interactions, as well as, to investigate tissue repair and reconstruction pathways. Therefore, we designed a reproducible and easy to handle printable bioreactor system (Teburu), that is applicable for different approaches of pathway investigation and targeted tissue repair using human tissue slices as a three‐dimensional cell culture model. Here, we definitively describe Teburu as a controlled environment to reseed a 500‐µm thick decellularized human liver slice using human mesenchymal stroma cells. During a cultivation period of eight days, Teburu, as a semi‐open and low consumption system, was capable to maintain steady pH and oxygenation levels. Its combination with additional modules delivers an applicability for a wide range of tissue engineering approaches under optimal culture conditions.

"Teburu—Open source 3D printable bioreactor for tissue slices as dynamic three‐dimensional cell culture models" was published in Artif Organs. 2019 Jun 18. doi: 10.1111/aor.13518. [Epub ahead of print]. Authors are A. Daneshgar, P. Tang, C. Remde, M. Lommel, S. Moosburner, U. Kertzscher, O. Klein, M. Weinhart, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and K.H. Hillebrandt.
Two new BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientists
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Dr. Karl Hillebrandt and Dr. Matthäus Felsenstein successfully applied for the BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientist Program. Karl Hillebrandt will continue his work on human decellularized liver slices as 3D platform for in vitro models of cholangiocellular carcinoma. Matthäus Felsenstein focusses on derivation of normal pancreatic duct cells from human primary tissue and their stepwise genetic modification in vitro using CRISPR/Cas9 .

Congratulations!
Strategies based on organ decellularization and recellularization
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Transplantation is the only curative treatment option available for patients suffering from end-stage organ failure, improving their quality of life and long-term survival. However, because of organ scarcity, only a small number of these patients actually benefit from transplantation. Alternative treatment options are needed to address this problem. The technique of whole-organ decellularization and recellularization has attracted increasing attention in the last decade. Decellularization includes the removal of all cellular components from an organ, while simultaneously preserving the micro and macro anatomy of the extracellular matrix. These bioscaffolds are subsequently repopulated with patient-derived cells, thus constructing a personalized neo-organ and ideally eliminating the need for immunosuppression. However, crucial problems have not yet been satisfyingly addressed and remain to be resolved, such as organ and cell sources.

In this paper "Strategies based on organ decellularization and recellularization" (Transpl Int. 2019; 32(6):571-585), we focus on the actual state of organ de- and recellularization, as well as the problems and future challenges. Authors are K.H. Hillebrandt, H. Everwien, N. Haep, E. Keshi, J. Pratschke, and I.M. Sauer.
Matters of Activity. Image Space Material
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Prof. I.M. Sauer and Prof. J. Pratschke became principal investigators in the new Cluster of Exzellence Matters of Activity. Image Space Material. This Cluster will explore materials’ own inner activity, which can be discovered as a new source of innovative strategies and mechanisms for rethinking the relationship between the analog and the digital and for designing more sustainable and energy-efficient technologies.
The project’s central vision is to develop images, spaces, and materials as active structures of a new physical and symbolic reality, in which nature and culture intertwine in a novel way. In this context, interdisciplinary research and development of sustainable processes and structures is a key priority in all areas of visual-material character, such as wearables, materials technology, medical technology, logistics, architecture, and robotics. More than 40 disciplines are systematically investigating design strategies for materials and structures that adapt to specific requirements and the environment. The cluster relies on a new role for design within the context of growing diversity and the continuous improvement of materials and forms of visualization in all disciplines.
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Implantation of a Neo Bile Duct in domestic pigs
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European Surgical Research accepted our latest paper entitled "Implantation of a tissue engineered Neo Bile Duct in domestic pigs" for publication. Authors are B. Struecker, K. Hillebrandt, N. Raschzok, K. Jöhrens, A. Butter, P. Tang, A. Andreou, H. Napierala, D. Polenz, A. Reutzel-Selke, T. Denecke, J. Pratschke, and I.M Sauer.

Extrahepatic bile duct injuries remain severe complications during cholecystectomy and often require reconstruction by bilioenteric anastomosis (i.e. hepatico-jejunostomy), which comes along with further long-term complications (e.g. recurring ascending cholangitis, secondary biliary cirrhosis). Furthermore, in case of inherent extrahepatic biliary atresia or during liver transplant artificial or engineered bile ducts could enable novel surgical strategies without the need for hepatico-jejunostomy. We present data on the implantation of in vitro generated Neo Bile Ducts in five domestic pigs. Neo Bile Ducts were engineered through decellularization of allogeneic blood vessels and recellularization with autologous cholangiocytes.On postoperative days 0, 1, 7 and 14 blood samples were taken and analyzed (AST, ALT, Bilirubin, Alkaline Phosphatase, Creatinine and Leukocytes). An magnetic resonance cholangiography was performed on postoperative day 14 with one pig. 14 days after implantation pigs were sacrificed and bile ducts were explanted. All pigs survived the complete study period without severe complications. None of the pigs showed signs of biliary leakage or peritonitis. Neo Bile Ducts were infiltrated by neutrophils and neo-angiogenesis was observed around and into the implanted tissue. Whether the presented technique enables the long-term replacement of native bile ducts has to be further evaluated.
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microRNAs in liver tissue engineering
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Our paper "microRNAs in liver tissue engineering - New promises for failing organs"was accepted for publication in Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews (IF: 15.038). Authors are Nathanael Raschzok, Hannes Sallmon, Johann Pratschke and Igor M. Sauer.

miRNA-based technologies provide attractive tools for several liver tissue engineering approaches. Herein, we review the current state of miRNA applications in liver tissue engineering. Several miRNAs have been implicated in hepatic disease and proper hepatocyte function. However, the clinical translation of these findings into tissue engineering has just begun. miRNAs have been successfully used to induce proliferation of mature hepatocytes and improve the differentiation of hepatic precursor cells. Nonetheless, miRNA-based approaches beyond cell generation have not yet entered preclinical or clinical investigations. Moreover, miRNA-based concepts for the biliary tree have yet to be developed. Further research on miRNA based modifications, however, holds the promise of enabling significant improvements to liver tissue engineering approaches due to their ability to regulate and fine-tune all biological processes relevant to hepatic tissue engineering, such as proliferation, differentiation, growth, and cell function.
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