Shaping the Future of Vascular Health: The CELLSYSTEMICS Platform 

Vascular diseases, such as arteriosclerosis and aortic aneurysms, represent abnormal conditions in blood vessels. Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) help maintain tissue integrity within blood vessel walls. Any imbalance in the interaction between SMCs and the tissue they live in can result in dysregulation of maintenance, leading to pathology. While tissue integrity and the SMCs’ contractile phenotype should be closely connected, existing research approaches and preventive healthcare strategies have not yet addressed the complexities. 

Dr Koen Reesink
Associate Professor (CARIM, Maastricht)

That is where the CELLSYSTEMICS public-private partnership project comes in. Led by Koen Reesink, Associate Professor at the Cardiovascular Research Institute and Heart and Vascular Center in Maastricht, this ambitious project brings together various research labs and private partners (see acknowledgements). The CELLSYSTEMICS initiative seeks to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms governing vascular tissue integrity and its perturbations during disease development. To comprehensively decipher the intricate interplay of biomechanical, biochemical, and mechanobiological factors, CELLSYSTEMICS partners are engineering a cutting-edge cell and tissue characterization platform. This novel technology seamlessly integrates high-resolution and broadband dynamic stretch, indentation, and microscopy measurements to facilitate unprecedented in-depth mechanobiological characterization at the intra-cell, inter-cell, and cell-matrix levels. 

Optics11 Life has a pivotal role in the CELLSYSTEMICS project, as it contributes expertise in high-resolution dynamic indentation- and stretch-based measurements. The collaborative efforts with the other partners have already resulted in an extension of Optics11Life’s Pavone platform towards high-framerate confocal microscopy functionality. These groundbreaking developments should yield invaluable insights into SMC system dynamics and novel phenotyping tools in cell biology, stem cell research, disease-in-a-dish, and organoid technologies. 

The leading expertise of Optics11 Life invested in the CELLSYSTEMICS platform is a crucial step forward in capturing the mechanobiology underlying soft tissue integrity. With its interdisciplinary approach and integrative technology, CELLSYSTEMICS has the potential to revolutionize the understanding of aortic aneurysm development and enable the development of transformative therapeutic solutions. The collaborative efforts of scientists and engineers across the public-private spectrum showcase the power of partnership in advancing medical research and improving global health outcomes. 


Part of the work is financially supported by the Public Private Partnership Allowance made available by Health-Holland, Top-Sector Life Sciences, and Health to the Association of Collaborating Health Foundations (SGF) to stimulate public-private partnerships and by ZonMW, grant LSHM21078-SGF “CELLSYSTEMICS.” 

CELLSYSTEMICS partners are: Depts. Biomedical Engineering, Biochemistry, and Cardiothoracic Surgery | MUMC+; Control Systems group, Dept. Electrical Engineering | TU/e; Optics11Life;; HCM Medical; BioSPX; STEMCELL Technologies; Contactgroup Marfan Netherlands

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