Prof. Hans Van Oosterwyck

Lecture: Computational models of angiogenesis: relevance for tissue engineering and relation to cell mechanics

Affiliation: Biomechanics section, KU Leuven, Belgium
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Lecture: Computational models of angiogenesis: relevance for tissue engineering and relation to cell mechanics

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from preexisting ones. As most tissues in our body require blood vessels for oxygenation and nutritional transport, angiogenesis plays a major role in their regeneration. We have previously developed a multiscale model of angiogenesis and integrated it into a computational model of bone regeneration. The model focuses on the interplay between oxygen, pro-angiogenic signaling and blood vessel formation on the one hand, and oxygen-mediated cell fate decisions during bone formation on the other hand. I will show examples on how model simulations can support the development of cellular and tissue engineering therapies that aim at enhancing bone regeneration, and how modelling can be used in combination with biofabrication technologies to improve the design of tissue engineering constructs.

In our multiscale model, endothelial cells that make up new blood vessels are represented as a single agent that can migrate according to directional cues, such as chemotactic and haptotactic signals. In reality cell migration in a three-dimensional matrix requires matrix degradation, cell adhesion and the application of cell-generated protrusive and contractile forces, which in the context of angiogenesis are all modulated by pro-angiogenic signals, like Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Having computational models of angiogenesis that explicitly incorporate cell-matrix mechanics and mechano-chemical feedback would enable to explore the importance of cell mechanical principles for making new blood vessels, which is an aspect that we could not address by our previous models. We have recently built cell and matrix mechanical models, based on particle-based, meshless methods, and have coupled them into a model of cell migration. I will discuss some methodological advances and their comparison to experimental data, such as Traction Force Microscopy (TFM) data.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC Grant Agreement n° 308223).

Short biography:

Hans Van Oosterwyck (DOB 02.02.1972) is a professor and the chair of the Biomechanics section (Mechanical Engineering Department) at KU Leuven, where he is heading the Mechanobiology and Tissue Engineering research group. He holds an MSc degree in Materials Engineering (1995) and a PhD degree in Engineering (2000), both obtained at KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium). He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the AO Research Institute (Davos, Switzerland) in 2004-2005 and a visiting scientist at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) in 2009. He is a member of Prometheus, the Leuven R&D Division for Skeletal Tissue Engineering. In 2012 he was awarded an ERC Starting Grant on the role of cell-matrix interaction in angiogenesis (‘MAtrix: In silico and in vitro Models of Angiogenesis: unraveling the role of the extracellular matrix’). His research focuses on the development of quantitative tools for unraveling the role of the microenvironment for cell fate, in particular the development of multiscale computational models for studying the importance of mechanics and mass transport for angiogenesis and bone regeneration. His research group is strongly interdisciplinary and combines computational modelling with experimental techniques, adopted from various fields, such as cell and tissue mechanics, cell biology, biomaterials and biophysics.

Hans Van Oosterwyck has been a Council Member of the European Society of Biomechanics (ESB) since 2006. He has been the President of the ESB between 2012-2014.