Controlling Cell Fate
Design of scaffolds able to control and steer (stem) cell activity
Stem cells are a fascinating and promising source to regenerate tissues and organs due to their potential to differentiated into multiple specialized cells. Yet, better control over cell-material interactions is necessary to maintain tissue engineered constructs in time. It is crucial to control stem cell quiescence, proliferation and differentiation in three-dimensional scaffolds while maintaining cells viable in situ.
Stem cell activity is controlled by a complex cascade of signals called “niche”, where the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) surrounding the cells play a major role. Designing scaffolds inspired by this cellular niche and its ECM may lead to engineered tissues with instructive properties characterized by enhanced homeostasis, stability and integration with the surrounding milieu.
In this research line, we aim at engineering constructs where scaffolds work as stem cell delivery systems actively controlling cell quiescence, proliferation, and differentiation. This challenge will be approached through a biomimetic design inspired by the mesenchymal stem cell niche. Three different scaffolds will be combined to achieve this purpose: (i) a scaffold designed to maintain cell quiescence; (ii) a scaffold designed to promote cell proliferation; and (iii) a scaffold designed to control cell differentiation. To prove the design criteria, the evaluation of stem cell quiescence, proliferation, and differentiation will be assessed for musculoskeletal regenerative therapies.
Researchers involved in this project
David Gomes, Khadija Mulder, Jip Zonderland, Ivan Lorenzo Moldero, Honglin Chen, Sara Neves, Matt Baker, Abhishek Harichandan.
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Terraciano V, Hwang N, Moroni L, Park HB, Zhang Z, Mizrahi J, Seliktar D, Elisseeff J. Differential Response of Adult and Embryonic Mesenchymal Progenitor Cells to Mechanical Compression in Hydrogels. Stem Cells 2007; 25(11): 2730-8.Download Pubblication