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A new and physiologically relevant heart model for testing supplements and exercise in vitro

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded

Overview

NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2023

Project ID: S&T38

Cardiomyocytes (heart cells) differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells (CM-hPSCs) show great potential in biotechnology applications like nutraceuticals, drug safety and disease modelling. However, CM-hPSCs are functionally immature (exhibit an embryonic phenotype rather than an adult one), and this has been hampering much-needed advances in cardiac biotechnology and ultimately delaying health benefits to patients.

Therefore, several approaches have been attempted to improve CM-hPSCs maturation. E.g., a recent study successfully enhanced cardiac microtissue maturation after culturing CM-hPSCs with endothelial cells (blood vessels cells) and fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) in 3D; however, the authors did not include the mechanical forces typically found in the heart like the sinus rhythm. To overcome this gap and accelerate patient benefits, this study will generate a more advanced and mature heart model based on CM-hPSCs by integrating the sinus rhythm of the heart as the cells grow. This will be achieved by culturing the CM-hPSCs in a computer-controlled state-of-the-art bioreactor.

Discoveries from this study should accelerate discoveries in the areas of nutrition and exercise in cardiovascular health, metabolism, drug safety, disease modelling, and cardiac development. In addition, the developed heart model is expected to replace the use of animals in scientific research contributing to the 3Rs principles.

Supervisory Team: Dr Lívia Santos, Dr Karah Dring (early career researcher) and Prof Chris Denning (School of Medicine, University of Nottingham). Chris Denning is a Professor of Stem Cell Biology. He led the University's Research Priority Area in Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells,and is now lead on the Interdisciplinary Research Cluster in End to End Therapeutics.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

To make an application, please visit our studentship application page.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2023 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Application guidance can be found on our studentship application page.

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