Anthal Smits leads the ImmunoRegeneration group in the Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanolobiology section, headed by prof. Carlijn Bouten. The research is centered around the question of how can we modulate the immune response using biomaterials in order to induce functional, homeostatic tissue regeneration? Knowledge on the responsible mechanisms of inflammation in wound healing and tissue regeneration and the intrinsic potential for regenerative medicine and cardiovascular tissue engineering strategies is only scarcely available. To fully explore and apply this potential, Smits’ research is dedicated to gaining a mechanistic understanding of the interactions between immune cell behaviour, biomaterial design, and biomechanical loads, in conditions of health and disease. The main target applications are cardiovascular replacements (e.g. heart valves and blood vessels), yet the research is curiosity-driven, and applicable to a wide variety of clinical applications. Smits’ research has an interdisciplinary nature, bridging the fields of tissue engineering, mechanobiology, materials science, and immunology. Topics of investigation range from the fundamentals of patient-specific macrophage-biomaterial interactions using dynamic in vitro platforms, to the development regenerative scaffolds for heart valve and blood vessel tissue engineering.
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