Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering

AHPCs on patterned substrate
Adult neural stem/progenitor cells growing on a micropatterned polymer substrate.

The advent of cellular reprogramming and transdifferentiation technologies has made it possible to implement rational strategies to generate or modify cell types to model diseases and develop cell-based therapies for tissue repair. With advances in biomaterials and 3D scaffold fabrication techniques, mimicking the stem cell niche is possible. Our interdisciplinary team merges stem cell biology, 2D & 3D scaffolds & biomaterials, drug delivery systems, gene therapy, and cellular engineering to develop experimental brain and tissue repair strategies. Combined, these enabling technologies will likely be beneficial for developing therapeutic interventions for translational biomedical applications.

  • Transdifferentiation of multipotent adult stem cells via chemical induction or electric field stimulation.
  • Differentiation of neural stem cells via electric field or magnetic stimulation.
  • Growth and differentiation of stem cells in 3D biomaterial scaffolds.

Nervous System Rescue and Repair

retinal transplantation
Neural stem cell transplants into the retina. Neural stem cells are green, cell nuclei blue and photoreceptors red.

A primary research theme in our lab is the development of novel approaches aimed at nervous system repair, regeneration and recovery. An especially promising area is cell-based transplantation therapies, whereby neural stem cells can be used to generate specific cell types in order to replace those cells compromised by disease or injury. In addition, somatic stem cells can be engineered as delivery vehicles for therapeutic factors for neuroprotection and regeneration. Coupling these approaches with biocompatible nano/micro materials is an especially powerful tactic for development and implementation of experimental strategies for neural tissue engineering and therapeutics.

  • Development and differentiation of neurospheres (mini-brains) and retinospheres.
  • Cell transplantation.

Neural Regeneration

Genetically engineered mesenchymal stem cells (green).

The overall goal of this collaborative project is to use a synergistic combination of interdisciplinary neuroprotective and neuroregenerative approaches to improve neural regeneration. In this highly collaborative project we are employing a combination of biomaterial approaches coupled with stem cells, and neuroprotective agents to facilitate neuroprotection as well as neuroregeneration. Ongoing projects are developing multifunctional biodegradable micro-patterned conduits, seeded with stem cells to facilitate nerve regeneration.

  • Transdifferentiation of somatic stem cells into Schwann-like cells for peripheral nerve regeneration.
  • Genetically engineering somatic stem cells as delivery vehicles for neurotrophic factors.