BRAVƎ’s greatest challenge is to demonstrate the translational capacity of tissue engineering to clinical practice in the cardiac area”

  • BRAVƎ External Advisory Board member Dr Elena de Juan shares her views on the project

On February 5th BRAVƎ project celebrated its first External Advisory Board Meeting. It was an opportunity for the project leaders to share with a group of renown internationally experts the work progress within the first difficult year of the project due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The External Advisory Board (EAB) is a group of seven clinicians, researchers and a patient organizations representative, from Spain, France and Australia. They are experts in cardiology, regenerative medicine, computational modelling, biofabrication, tissue bioengineering, bioethics. Its main role is to ensure the BRAVƎ of continued “fresh” and independent input on the project’s activities and results from the perspective of its main stakeholders.

Taking advantage of such occasion, we wanted to ask some of them what challenges they consider that BRAVƎ faces and the potential benefits of the success of this research. Here we share Dr Elena de Juan’s testimony. Dr Elena de Juan is the Head of the tissue engineering laboratory, T3mPLATE, at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. She also holds a Senior Lecturer position at The University of Western Australia.

Q. Bioengineering has offered improvements applied to cartilage and bone, what difficulties does it entail applying it to the heart?

Each tissue has unique characteristics, and applying the advances in bioengineering to the heart represents an important step forward in terms of complexity compared to cartilage and bone. Therefore, tissue engineering of the heart is a very nice challenge to test how far bioengineering can go.

Q. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge that BRAVƎ faces?

The great challenge of BRAVƎ, in my opinion, is to lay the foundations to demonstrate the translational capacity of tissue engineering to clinical practice in the cardiac area.

Q. The BRAVƎ project is working to develop a BIOVAD. Achieving this entails innovating and advancing in technological development and biomaterials. What benefits or what potential can this biotechnological advance bring to other diseases?

This ambitious project has tremendous potential to demonstrate the possibilities of tissue engineering in the development of a fully biological ventricular assist device, made up of regenerated heart tissue. But it does not stop there: BRAVƎ is also breaking new ground and laying the foundations on how to work in an interdisciplinary manner. This requires scientific and ethical rigor to incorporate the great biotechnological advances, such as 3D printing, new biomaterials, induced pluripotent stem cells, bioreactors and computational modelling, to the development of other innovative biomedical products for regenerative medicine.