Tissue engineering and regeneration
Cardiac tissue engineering - Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in industrialized nations. To date, heart transplantation is the only treatment for patients with end-stage heart failure. Cardiac tissue engineering provides an alternative approach by combining cardiomyocytes and 3D biomaterials to create a functional cardiac patch. Later, the cardiac patch is implanted to restore cardiac function. Our lab develops technologies to improve the function of engineered cardia patches by methods such as mimicking the natural ECM of the heart, improving scaffold conductivity and developing novel biomaterials for tissue engineering.
Engineering spinal cord implants - Adult neuronal tissues have a limited regeneration capacity, especially after a specific damage such in the case of spinal cord injury (SCI). Those cases often lead to degeneration of the tissues, to their failure and death. SCI disrupts the signaling along the spinal cord causing different levels of loss of function. The damage caused by the injury is progressive, leading to a cascade of neuronal death, coupled with changes in the cellular microenvironment. This leads to a scar tissue formation and ECM remodeling, impeding the ability of the resident cells to regenerate. Our lab develops spinal cord implants from a thermoresponsive hydrogel combined and iPSC-derived spinal cord neurons to create functional spinal cord implants, which when implanted can bridge the scar tissue formed following SCI.
Engineering dopaminergic implants - One of the most challenging neurodegenerative disorders is Parkinson's disease (PD) with over 10 million people affected worldwide. PD characteristics are the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, coupled with a motoric disorder. Many dopamine replacement treatments exist with beneficial motor result; however, they cause adverse effects due to their non-physiological nature and off-target release. Another promising strategy to handle such ailment is cell-based therapies. Here, dopaminergic cells are injected into the desired site to regain function. Our lab develops dopaminergic implants containing iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons. In addition to their ability to secrete dopamine, the lab develops methods to increase dopamine production by incorporation of inorganic nanoparticle within their differentiation matrix.
Retinal tissue regeneration - We aim to treat retinal degeneration by delivering various cell types by encapsulating them within an ECM-based thermoresponsive hydrogel.