2. Cell Isolation, Proliferation, Differentiation and Characterization (including stem cells)
3. Control Drug Release Technology
4. Bioreactor Design
5. Transplantation Technology
The term “Tissue Modulation” was coined to characterise a research direction that aims to positively influence the development, composition and stability of tissue by manipulating its extracellular matrix content or altering the phenotype of progenitor cells. To achieve these aims the Laboratory employs well defined non-peptide based synthetic small or very large molecules.
The Laboratory has implemented four biomedical research lines:
Matrix Enhancement - Collagens and related ligands are major components of the connective tissue of tissues like skin, blood vessels, tendon and bone. Obviously, the in-vitro production of these tissues requires substantial amounts of deposited and biologically crosslinked collagens. The Laboratory is currently characterising polymeric culture medium additives that accelerate the enzymatic conversion of procollagen to collagen and its crosslinking that lead to a stable enhanced matrix formation in tissue engineered constructs.
Scar Wars - The Laboratory is leading the NMRC-funded National Group on Fibrovascular Disorders Programme (NFDP) to explore antifibrotic substances for the treatment of scarring conditions of several tissues.
Biological X-linking and Mechanics - “Collagen-inspired Biomaterials” focuses on stabilisation of collagen-blended nanospun fibers and the incorporation of tagged bioactive peptide sequences as crucial reaction partners for cells and tissue.
Manipulation of the Stem Cell Phenotype - We aim to model cell free stem cell niches to control aspects of stem cell properties in-vitro. A “stem cell niche” is a 3D environment of cell subsets and extracellular matrix (ECM) that can indefinitely house stem cells and direct their self renewal and production of progeny. We want to focus on the isolated effects of the ECM on adult human stem cells. To achieve our objectives we will use technology achieved from our ECM platform, namely the creation of biological ECMs derived from different cell types and use their deposited ECM to 1) control niche specific stem cell properties (niche effect) and 2) direct differentiation into niche specific cell types particularly of CNS lineages (niche-specific differentiation).
|Graphical illustration showing the principles underlying scaffold-based tissue engineering. A scaffold or matrix, living cells, and/or biologically active molecules are used in variable strategies to form a “tissue-engineered construct (TEC)” to promote the repair and regeneration of tissues|
Biomaterials are synthetic or natural materials that can replace or augment tissues, organs or body functions. There is a need to develop the next generation of biomaterials and medical implants. New avenues of scientific inquiry may enable the development of biomaterials that are safe, reliable, "smart", long-lasting, and perform ideally in their respective biological environments.
In the Biomaterials Laboratory, the main objective of our research is to develop state-of-the-art next generation polymer-based nanomaterial with controlled geometry, orientation, chemical composition, and specific internal and surface molecular structures for potential applications in tissue engineering and regeneration. The electrospinning method is chosen for processing nanometer scale polymer fibers because it has a high potential to produce a variety of continuous nanofibers with different nano- and micro-structural features.
Our focus is to develop 3-dimensional scaffolds for blood vessel and nerve regeneration, hepatocytes culture, biocomposites-modified nanofibers for bone graft, and wound dressing from collagen-modified nanofibers. We have undertaken to study fundamentally cell-synthetic ECM interactions in the areas of cell morphology, gene expression and function, cell signaling, and secreted ECM profiles. We were among the first groups which demonstrated that human coronary artery smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells proliferate well on nanofibers, extension of neurites of neural stem cells cultured on nanofibers and in-growth of axons in transplanted nanofiber nerve guide conduits. We also showed the integration of hepatocyte spheroids on nanofiber mesh, human osteoblasts growth on calcium-composite nanofibers, and growth of human dermal fibroblast on collagen scaffold for wound dressing. An in-depth understanding of cell behavior cultured on nanofibers is essential to allow us to tailor the fabrication of matrices for specific applications.