Oxygen generating materials to improve cell survival
In the field of regenerative medicine we have used (stem) cells to engineer new tissues to replace, repair, or regenerate damaged, diseased, or aged tissues, which holds tremendous possibilities to both extend our lives and improve our quality of life. Our capability to generate stem cells and control their behavior has taken a breath taking leap in the last decades. However, translating tissue engineering technologies into routine clinical practice requires the creation of viable clinically-sized tissues, which poses a true fundamental challenge, which this proposal sets-out to definitively resolve. Specifically, this we have become progressively more adapt at creating small tissues for small animals e.g. mice and rats, but have relentlessly struggled to create viable tissues of human-relevant sizes.
Although small tissues can rely on diffusion of oxygen and glucose from the hosts, large tissues suffer from nutrient diffusion limitations, which results in starvation and death of the implant. Existing research has made great advances in angiogenesis and tissue prevascularization. Although these approaches accelerated the blood vessels formation, they have failed to resolve the main challenge of keeping most of the construct alive, as they do not provide oxygen or nutrients until the implant is perfused. In this project, we aim to overcome this challenge by engineering smart micromaterials that provide tissues with a continuous supply of nutrients, which will enable the formation of large, viable, and functional tissues in vivo.
Specifically, you will be involved in the microengineering microparticles and testing their effects on stem cell behavior. This project will therefore provide aspiring students with a wide skillset and knowledge on basic material science, microfluidics, stem cells, and tissue engineering.
Figure 1: Pilot experiments demonstrating (A) microparticle formation, (B) size quantification, (C-D) effect of incorporation of oxygen generating molecule (CaO2), (E-F) and effect of oxygen release on stem cell survival.