AME: Project Examples

 

Overview of project-examples of the AME-departments:

CVE-Projects

RPE-Projects

BEE-Projects

BioTex-Projects

SCM-Projects

DFG project

  Logo CVE

Projects of the department
CVE – Cardiovascular Engineering

 
 
Projectname Short description Funding
3DLung

3D-printed Membranes for Artificial Lungs

This project is part of the SPP 2014: Towards an Implantable Lung
Project number 313779459

German research foundation
Project number 347368182

ConnexAL

Development and evaluation of minimally invasive techniques to connect an artificial lung to the heart and central vessels

This project is part of the SPP 2014: Towards an Implantable Lung
Project number 313779459

German research foundation
Project number 347325614
ConnLA

Alternative to conventionally used cannula of Extracorporeal Lung Assist systems

This project is part of the SPP 2014: Towards an Implantable Lung
Project number 313779459

German research foundation
Project number 346973239
ECCOR To close this temporal gap between the diagnosis of a carbon monoxide intoxication and the HBO therapy, a system for the elimination of carbon monoxide will be developed. European Union and North Rhine-Westphalia
Support Code 1606pv011
EduDerm Development and evaluation of a realistic skin, vascular and tissue model from artificial materials for the training of basic surgical skills. This research project is funded by the Program „Innovative Lehrprojekte“ of the Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen
EndOxy Development of a biohybrid artificial lung Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research within the faculty of Medicine at the RWTH Aachen University (T12-2)
Fontan Pro An individual adaptable fontan-prosthesis in combination with a cardiac support system is a new and innovative therapeutic option for patients, which are born with only one functioning ventricle. Federal ministry of education and research
Ghost Cells

Ghostcells are red blood cells, known as erythrocytes, with a lower intracellular hemoglobin concentration. Hemoglobin is the reddish substance inside the cells. After applying a controlled lysis, the cells are loaded with calcium and a fluorescent indicator is added to the surrounding liquid. This setup allows for the measurement of the red blood cells destruction, also called hemolysis. With those measurements, the hemolysis can be quantified spatially for the first time.

German Research Foundation
Project number STE 1680/12-1
HOC Surf

In the context of the HOC-Surf project, we investigate the applicability of the plasmaelectrolytic oxidation treatment for manufacturing cost-efficient and particular hemocompatible ceramic surfaces under the conditions of a ventricular assist device.

European Union and Land Nordrhein-Westfalen
Interventional measurement A successful replacement of a pathological heart valve requires an exact measurement of the present geometry. START-Program of the Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen
Surface Structures Improving the hemocompatibility of polyurethane by means of surface structuring START-Program of the Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen
OxyBench Testbed for implantable Lungs START-Program of the Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen
OxySim

Computational Fluid Dynamics, CFD, supports the development process of oxygenators significantly. Aim of this project is to develop the numerical model further, as well as to validate it in vitro.

German research foundation
Support code STE 1680/7-1
Perinatal Life Support System Supporting the safe development of extremely preterm born infants outside the womb by preserving the innate fetal cardiorespiratory physiology ex vivo Horizon 2020
PLAAO Personalized LAA occluder

Federal ministry of education and research
Support code 13GW0114B

Polyvalve Polymeric Prosthetic Heart Valve for Life INTERREG Program V-A Euregio Maas-Rheine of the European Union
Grant Number 2016/98602
ProtEmbo Development and testing of a novel embolic protection device. Federal ministry of education and research
Support code 13GW0058B
PulmoStent (Part CVE) Biohybrid stent for the treatment of airway stenoses Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Support code 03VP03290
ReinHeart

Development of a fully implantable total artificial heart that functions without any connection through the skin

European Union and Land Nordrhein-Westfalen

The CVE-Research in detail

  Logo RPE

Projects of the Department

RPE – Rehabilitation and Prevention Engineering

 
 

smartMove

Development of a smart orthotic device to improve Movement capacity of patients suffering from spasticity.

inRehaRob

Development of a robot-based rehabilitation system enabling individualized rehabilitation which can be performed autonomously by the patient.

Dyneva Examination of the effect of a dynamic flexion-orthosis on the activation of the low back muscles.
HSR-EMG Non-invasive assessment of single motor unit activity enabling diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders free of pain.
Early diagnosis of movement disorders Development of a non-invasive procedure which supports the objective and quantitative evaluation of the spontaneous motor activity of babies.
Movement Analysis of upper extremities Development of methods and procedures to analyze freely performed movements of the upper extremities.
Gait Analysis Development of novel methods to quantify the quality of gait.
Detection of limping Development of an ambulatory system allowing to analyse quality of gait

Detailed description of RPE research activities

  Logo BEE

Projects of the Department
BEE – Biophysical & Education Engineering

 

Blended Assessments

With support from the Stifterverband, this project figures out whether and how digital media ought to be integrated on classic testing scenarios

Problem Based Practical Courses

PBL scenarios have been implemented in university education for almost 50 years now. With small but important format changes, the concept also works for the learning of practical skills.

Electronic Assessments

After having developed this project for more than a decade, it was transferred to the department “Medien für die Lehre“. Every faculty of the RWTH Aachen University is now able and entitled to use e-assessments.

Revealing textile implants with MR

In order to avoid post-operative complications and to plan follow-up operations, a technique is developed that makes textile implants visible with MR technique.
How to detect the distribution of magnetic nanoparticles in textile implants By using a magnetic force microscope, the distribution of magnetic nanoparticles within textile implants can be measured with outstanding accuracy.

BEE-Research in detail

  Logo BEE

Projectes of the Department
BioTex - Biohybrid & Medical Textiles

 
 
pHMed

The approach of the project regarding the fibre formation is the development of a bi-component spinning process that enables the spatially defined incorporation of microgels into PLA fibres.

PulmoStent Development a biohybrid stent, PulmoStent, for treatment of airway stenoses.

BioTex-Research in detail

  Logo BEE

Project of the Department
SCM – Science Management

 
 

mi-mappa A new integrative competence model of medical engineering based to be used with data mining algorithms has been conceptualized by the Department of Science Management.
TIM

Update of the trend- and innovation monitoring, in short TIM, for the medical industry in North Rhine-Westphalia

CDev

Specialized consortia developed innovative systems and solutions for cardiovascular therapy. The individual adaptation of medical devices and systems to the pathological needs of patients have been implemented in seven R&D projects.

SCM-Research in Detail

 

DFG project "Towards a model based control of biohybrid implant maturation"

 
 

P1: BioInterface - Functional fibrin-based hydrogels for the direction of cell/biomaterial interactions in biohybrid cardiovascular Implants

Since decades, tissue engineering is a broad and interdisciplinary research field with its research activities focusing on future applications to replace diverse organs or tissues. However, although very promising biohybrid systems are developed for transplantations, a prediction on how tissue-engineered constructs behave in vivo after transplantation is not possible today.

In our subproject (P1) of the consortium, we will develop functional, molecular building blocks for the tailored design of fibrin-based hydrogels. We will then systematically investigate cell/biomaterial interactions with the focus on the long-term behavior in tissue engineering. Our data on the physico-chemical properties (chemical structure, mechanical properties, degradation profiles) of biomaterial substrates and their influence on the cell behavior will undergo bioinformatic analyses with the aim to predict long-term behavior of tissue-engineered constructs in cardiovascular therapies. These data contain (i) predictions on the cell behavior of endogenous recipient cells in contact to transplanted biohybrids or implants as well as (ii) predictions on the cell behavior within tissue-engineered constructs after transplantation.

We will synthesize novel biohybrid hydrogels consisting of fibrinogen and reactive, biocompatible N-Vinyllactam-based copolymers. These hydrogels will possess controllable mechanical properties, various morphologies and directed degradation behavior. The fibrin-based hydrogels will be investigated systematically in contact to diverse cell types related to the cardiovascular field, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), smooth muscle cells (SMC) and endothelial cells (EC). The cells will be cultured either on the hydrogels or within the hydrogels. We will assess the basic compatibility of the hydrogels concerning cell adhesion, viability, proliferation, apoptosis, necrosis and cytotoxicity according to ISO 10993-5. In addition, we will analyze the influence of the hydrogel properties (elasticity, degradation) on the cell behavior with a focus on (i) stem cell differentiation (adipogenic, osteogenic, chondrogenic and in particular myogenic differentiation), (ii) matrix remodelling and (iii) vascularization. The gained data will be analyzed bioinformatically to predict the long-term behavior of cells in contact to hydrogels. Thus, we will provide data of our subproject as an important part for the implant-maturing model, which will be developed in P6.

Projectleader

Priv.-Doz. Dr. rer. nat. Sabine Neuss-Stein
sneuss-stein@ukaachen.de

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Andrij Pich
pich@dwi.rwth-aachen.de

P2: Architissue - 3D-Architektur biohybrider kardiovaskulärer Implantate durch additive Fertigung

The production of biohybrid implants requires the combination of living cells and non-living scaffolds in a specific 3D arrangement to obtain tissues that recapitulate native ones in their composition and function. Ideally, the scaffold provides the overall geometry and structural stability and at the same time defines the 3D microenvironment with tailored properties to guide cellular growth and extracellular matrix synthesis. The scaffold design and the material properties affect the cell behavior in multiple ways, ultimately influencing the final tissue’s function.

The aim of this project is to investigate the influence of precisely defined 3D scaffold architectures on the maturation of functional biohybrid implants.

The project relies on the capability of additive manufacturing techniques to control the spatial distribution of pore size, shape and interconnectivity as well as mechanical and structural properties of polymeric scaffolds. In ArchiTissue, we will apply initiator-free laser polymerization of cytocompatible pre-polymers in combination with stereolithography (SL) to create a variety of microstructures as building blocks, which can be selectively assembled into 3D macro geometries.

The effect of the so obtained microarchitectures on cell behavior will be investigated with mono- and co-culture of smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells, in structures of increasing complexity. Indeed, the high degree of freedom associated with the fabrication technique allows creating scaffolds exhibiting non-homogeneous composition and anisotropic properties typical of native tissues.

Based on the results, the framework conditions for the development of a multi-layer, biohybrid heart valve will be determined. These conditions and parameters will be collected in a structural catalogue, which will serve as a general platform for biohybrid implants as well as input for a maturation model of such implants.

The three layers of a heart valve leaflet, the collagen-rich fibrosa, the glycosaminoglycan-rich spongiosa and the elastin-rich ventricularis, will be realized by the cell colonization of the scaffold in ad-hoc developed bioreactors. For this purpose, the mechanical properties and the microarchitecture are first tailored for each layer to influence the behavior of the endothelial and smooth muscle cells, especially with respect to the production of the extracellular matrix.

The following scientific questions will be addressed to achieve the project’s aim:

  • Creation of 3D architectures by combination of micro- and macroscale structuring by combining multiphoton polymerization and SL
  • Investigation of the interaction between 3D architecture and cells under static and dynamic cultivation in bioreactors
  • Development of a multi-layered biomimetic biohybrid model for heart valve tissue engineering
Projectleader

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Petra Mela
mela@ame.rwth-aachen.de

Dr.-Ing. Arnold Gillner
arnold.gillner@llt.rwth-aachen.de

Dr. rer. nat. Nadine Nottrodt
nadine.nottrodt@ilt.fraunhofer.de

P3: TexValveModelling - Modelling of the structure and fluid-structure interaction of biohybrid heart valves on tissue maturation


The tissue maturation process is a crucial point during the production of biohybrid implants. A special focus must lie on the evolution of the extracellular matrix (ECM), which must be capable of bearing high oscillating pressure loads over a long period. In nature, this is achieved by an load oriented arrangement of collagen and elastin fibres within the tissue itself. Such fibre reinforce the tissue just like carbon fibre do with plastics. The growth process of such fibres strongly depends upon the loading and consequently on the stress state within the tissue itself. In biohybrid implants, this stress state is being altered by the inclusion of a polymeric reinforcement structure (scaffold). This leads to a need for computational models, which can predict the evolution of the ECM under the influence of a scaffold structure. The scope of this project is to develop a simulation framework, which is capable of predicting the tissues evolution within the bioreactor. To achieve this, a continuum mechanical material model is developed.

Projectleader

Lukas Lamm, Stefanie Reese
Institute for Applied Mechanics, RWTH Aachen University, Germany,
lukas.lamm@ifam.rwth-aachen.de, d.sodhani@ifam.rwth-aachen.de, stefanie.reese@ifam.rwth-aachen.de


tba, Stefan Jockenhövel
Institute of Applied Medical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Germany, jockenhoevel@ame.rwth-aachen.de

P4: ProcessModelling – Process-oriented matuaration model of biohybrid heart valves during bioreactor conditioning

The goal of this project is to develop process-oriented system analysis and modelling of the maturation process of biohybrid heart valve implants. These valves are conditioned in a bioreactor under pulsatile pressure and flow conditions. Focus of the proposal is the investigation of the relation between on the one hand the output variables y(t) and input variables u(t) of the process, and on the other hand the state variables x(t), describing the actual maturation status of the valve at a functional and a cellular level. Since the maturation process is key to the properties of the heart valve under development at any point in time, it is crucial to determine how these properties can be matched to both the initial values of the state variables of the pre-implant and the desired final values of the state variables at the end of the process. Output variables y(t) are physical and biochemical properties of the bioreactor medium, functional parameters describing opening and closing behaviour of the valve (obtained using ultrasound and photography), and data on the actual composition of the valve during development. The latter are obtained using Two-photon microscopy (2PM) of extracellular matrix formation (elastin and collagen) and of the interstitial and endothelial cells. The 2PM data will be obtained using an endoscopic microscope, necessary to observe the implant condition continuously in time. This avoids the need for histopathological characterization, since that would require interruption and disruption of the maturation process. Some of the state variables based on expertise, can be directly deduced from specific output parameters, resulting in pre-determined dependence matrices and characteristic diagrams. Based on the identified system dynamics and its mathematical description, we will construct a model of the maturation process. Ideally, model based state observation utilizing input and output variables will allow a continuous quantification of the state variables over time, which will obviate the need for destructive histological examinations. In this project, data for modelling and validation will be obtained experimentally, requesting explicit need for bioreactor experiments. Methodical aspects of this projects focus on applying the paradigm of object-oriented modelling and building a component library. Besides, another focus will be on modelling the maturation process as a spatially parametrically distributed system. On a more fundamental level, another goal of the project is to investigate how object-oriented modelling and its advantages can be transferred to parametrically distributed systems, which is not yet established. In phase II of this project, the maturation model will be used to construct a model-based control of the bioreactor. This expresses the ultimate goal to obtain a fully controlled individualized maturation process at cellular and tissue level of biocompatible and long-term durable heart valve implants.

Projectleader

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Schmitz-Rode
smiro@ame.rwth-aachen.de

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dirk Abel
d.abel@irt.rwth-achen.de

Prof. Marc van Zandvoort
mamj.vanzandvoort@maastrichtuniversity.nl

P5: DurImplant – Analysis of implant behavior after bioreactor maturation in vitro

The aim of project P5 is the development of an in vitro methodology for the investigation of the durability of biohybrid implants with main focus on the propensity to calcification as a decisive limiting factor of the implant lifetime and function. The issue of calcification propensity and its prediction and prevention is already of great importance in avital bioprosthetic heart valves. This fact is countered by the hypothesis that biohybrid heart valve prostheses with a vital, functionally active endothelium are a natural barrier for calcification, which is to be investigated in a test environment that is as close to reality as possible. To test avital bioprosthetic heart valves, CVE already has a dynamic durability test system, which has hitherto been based on a purely mechanical and physicochemical basis, but does not offer a suitable test environment for cellularized material either from a physiological or cytotoxicological point of view. This aspect is to be addressed by the development of a biohybrid-compatible test system. Important parameters with regard to the test environment are the cell compatibility with simultaneous calcification potential of the fluid, physiological pH, temperature and flow conditions as well as the online detection of the formation and progression of calcifications. In addition to the test environment, many individual influencing factors, whose role in calcification have not yet been fully clarified, have to be taken into account (blood, inflammation, material and surface parameters, calcification inductors and inhibitors and cell involvement). These factors are to be investigated first in a miniaturized flow chamber system on material patches. A corresponding flow chamber is developed and built at CVE. The advantages of a miniaturized system for research purposes are: i) greater flexibility in the composition of various fluids and fluid-substrate combinations so that individual calcification parameters can be separately examined, ii) a constant fluid composition in the test chamber through an open flow system (single pass); and (iii) the possibility of parallel operation of several flow chambers with microscopic online tracking of the calcification process. Comparably small amounts of substrates allow the testing of different materials with and without living cells even before complex constructs (implants) are available. The Fetuin-A-based imaging, inflammatory reporter cell assays and (patho) -biomimetic fluids with high-molecular-weight mineral precursors developed at ZMG are used. The influence of surface structures and anomalies is to be investigated by means of optical coherence tomography of the starting materials and correlation with the calcification patterns occurring after testing.

Projectleader

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wilhelm Jahnen-Dechent
willi.jahnen@rwth-aachen.de

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Steinseifer
steinseifer@ame.rwth-aachen.de

Priv.-Doz. Dr.-Ing. Jutta Arens
arens@ame.rwth-aachen.de

P6: ImplantMonitoring – Multimodal imaging for longitudinal in vivo monitoring of Biohybrid implants

The tissue maturation of biohybrid implants continues even after implantation. This healing and remodeling process, which represents an interaction between the vital implant and its environment, is of central importance for the functionality and lifespan of biohybrid implants. The aim of the project is therefore to evaluate and develop methods that allow a longitudinal consideration of the biological dynamics of the insertion and remodelling process of biohybrid implants and their components. MR-PET imaging and molecular sonography will be used to measure interactions between (i) biomaterial, (ii) cellular components and (iii) implant environment in vivo. As the first geometrically simplified model structure, a biohybrid vascular prosthesis (I.D. 3 mm) is used, which is composed of (1) a fibrin-gel matrix as cell carrier structure for myofibroblasts, (2) a textile, partially biodegradable reinforcement as support structure, and (3) an endothelialized lumen. For longitudinal imaging, the textile support structures are provided with long-lived MRT markers. Iron oxide nanoparticles (USPIO) are used to mark the degradable part of the support structures and make it visible via means of 1H MRI. For the non-degradable part of the support structure fluorinated polymers (19F-TPU) are used and shown with 19F-MRT. The labeled biohybrid vascular prostheses are implanted in rat aorta to characterize the in vivo remodelling process. The biological processes of tissue/vascular remodelling are investigated using PET radiotracers, molecular MRI and sonography. Inflammatory reactions will be visualized by 18F-FDG PET measurements, cellular apoptosis and necrosis by 18F-Duramycin PET measurements. The cellularity of the vascular prostheses as well as the formation of a local tissue edema will be determined by diffusion-weighted MRI imaging and FLAIR sequences or T2 relaxometry. A molecular MRI probe against elastin will be used to investigate elastogenesis during the in vivo remodeling process. The obtained non-invasive data will be validated (immunologically) histologically.

In summary, the project provides important insights into the in vivo remodelling process of implants and their interactions with the recipient organism. The data serve as an essential basis for the maturation model to enable prediction of the in vivo implant behavior already during the manufacturing process. The technical design, cell source and biomaterial are identical to those of the biohybrid heart valve. In the second phase of the project, strategies will be developed to transfer the findings and technologies gained to the more complex geometric and moving form of the heart valve prosthesis.

Projectleader

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Jockenhövel
jockenhoevel@ame.rwth-aachen.de

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Fabian Kießling
fkiessling@ukaachen.de