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Cardiac tissue engineering is developing as an alternative approach to heart transplantation for treating heart failure. Shortage of organ donors and complications arising after orthotopic transplant remain major challenges to the modern field of heart transplantation. Engineering functional myocardium de novo requires an abundant source of cardiomyocytes, a biocompatible scaffold material and a functional vasculature to sustain the high metabolism of the construct. Progress has been made on several fronts, with cardiac cell biology, stem cells and biomaterials research particularly promising for cardiac tissue engineering, however currently employed strategies for vascularisation have lagged behind and limit the volume of tissue formed. Over ten years we have developed an in vivo tissue engineering model to construct vascularised tissue from various cell and tissue sources, including cardiac tissue. In this article we review the progress made with this approach and others, together with their potential to support a volume of engineered tissue for cardiac tissue engineering where contractile mass impacts directly on functional outcomes in translation to the clinic. It is clear that a scaled-up cardiac tissue engineering solution required for clinical treatment of heart failure will include a robust vascular supply for successful translation.

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Journal Article

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