Author: ehgroth

Biomed Students Win Biotechnology Research Center Student Research Forum Awards

The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announce award recipients of the Seventh Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum, held March 25.

For the graduate students, two Grand Prize Awards, six Merit Awards and two Honorable Mention Awards were presented. They were selected from among the 42 posters and abstracts submitted by graduate students conducting research related to ecology, the environment and biotechnology at Michigan Tech. New this year was a separate undergraduate research division with 9 submissions. For the undergraduate students, each center awarded a grand prize winner.

Posters will continue to be on display in the atrium of the Forestry building through April 8.


Megan Frost, Rupak Rajachar, Keat Ghee Ong Receive Funding

Assistant Professor Megan Frost (BME) and Co-PI John Diebel (TED) have received $46,560 from Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative (MUCI), for a one-year project, “Nitric Oxide Releasing Intravascular Sensor.”

Assistant Professor Rupak Rajachar (BME), Co-PI Keat Ong(BME) and Co-PI Mike Morley (TED), have received $19,785 from the Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative (MUCI) for a one-year project, “Vibrational Coating for Improvement of Long-Term Stability of Trancutaneous Implants.”


Tissue Engineered Models for Fundamental Study and Treatment of Heart Valve

Wednesday, January 19
211 Chemical Sciences & Engineering Building
2:00 pm

Presenter: Zannatul Ferdous, Ph.D., Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience Georgia Institute of Technology

Abstract: My research uses unique model systems to study mechanisms and causes of cardiovascular diseases, particularly pathologies of heart valves. Valve diseases and defects are major causes of mortality in the elderly population and children in the US. Since altered expression of decorin has been observed in diseased heart valves, for my graduate research, the roles of proteoglycan decorin on extracellular matrix remodeling and tissue mechanics were investigated. Using tissueengineered collagen gels, we demonstrated that decorin-mediated matrix remodeling was heavily modulated by decorin-transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) interaction. In addition, cyclic strain promoted compensatory behavior in collagen gels containing decorin-deficient cells, suggesting the influence of tissue mechanics on cellular function. We also showed the utility of a proper chemical and mechanical environment for studying  ex vivo tissue systems. For my postdoctoral research, the contributions of mechanical forces to the initiation and progression of vascular and valvular calcification are being studied using cells isolated from non-sclerotic human tissues. We have observed that expression of osteogenic and matrix remodeling markers are dependent on both cell source (vascular versus valvular) and mechanical strain. In addition, calcification is observed to be modulated by the magnitude of strain (physiological versus pathological) applied to either cell types. We anticipate that the tissue-engineered model would help determine biomarkers for early detection and prevention of valve calcification. Additionally, the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in valvular diseases are also being investigated using RNAs isolated from endothelial cells in freshly isolated porcine valves. We hope that this research would lead to the discovery of important miRNAs and their roles in aortic valve biology and diseases. Continued research would therefore improve our knowledge of the complex heart valve environment and help determine treatment options for the large population of elderly and children in need for valve replacement.


Recreate Biomimetic Microenvironment for Regenerative Medicine Tissue-engineering of Scaffold-free Small-diameter Blood Vessel

Tuesday, January 11
U113 M&M Building
2:00 pm

Presenter: Feng Zhao, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University

Abstract: The recreation of a natural microenvironment is  of significant importance to realize the regeneration potential of cells for engineering functional tissues.  My research aims to replicate the in vivo cell-cell and cell-environment interactions by manipulating biomaterials, oxygen tension, and hydrodynamic culture conditions in a precisely controlled manner.  The current study focuses on tissue-engineering of scaffold-free small-diameter blood vessel using human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) based on their unique antithrombogenic property, immunomodulatory ability, and pluripotency for differentiation into vascular phenotypes. The fulfillment of the therapeutic application of tissue-engineered blood vessel (TEBV) from hMSCs requires the cells to maintain high viability, organization, and stemness.  By culturing hMSCs under the combined stimulation of nanotopographical cue and low oxygen tension, an extensively aligned cell sheet was fabricated with well-preserved stemness and viability. The physiologically low O2 (2%) tension significantly improved the confluency and extracellular matrix proteins secretion of the cells, which facilitated the process of cell sheet harvesting.  The fabrication of a completely biological tubular structure was achieved by wrapping the aligned hMSC  sheets around a temporary supporting mandrel. Maturation of the cellular construct in the rotating wall bioreactor reinforced its mechanical stability and allowed its development into an implantable  small-diameter TEBV.  The preliminary animal study in a rat femoral artery model demonstrated the remodeling of the vascular graft as well as the infiltration of endothelial cells into the hMSC-based TEBV.


Engineering Microenvironment for Neurogenesis

Friday, December 3
U113 M&M Building
11:00 am

Presenter: Li Yao, Ph.D., National Center for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

Abstract: Advances in neuroscience over the past two decades begin to offer hope for patients with injury in nervous system. Since the demonstration in 1980 that central  nervous system axons have the capacity to regenerate within peripheral nervous system graft, much has been accomplished toward understanding factors that contribute to a physiologically permissive environment. Axonal regeneration after injury or disease is the major challenge in both peripheral and central nervous system. Neural engineering is a promising approach for axonal regeneration by preventing inhibitory factors and enhancing guided axonal growth. In peripheral nerve regeneration, neural conduits have been investigated to bridge nerve defects. In our recent study, the advance in the design of engineered scaffolds that mimic peripheral nerve multiple basal lamina have improved guided axonal regeneration in vivo. Despite recent advances, the limited demonstration of functional improvement in in vivo models of spinal cord injury has prevented advancement of regenerative therapy to clinical use. This may be due in large part to the multifaceted nature of spinal cord injuries, which presents a major challenge to therapeutic development. In order for viable treatment strategies to be realized clinically, it is likely that combinations of current therapeutic approaches must be used. We are developing a functionalised graft that targets injury mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels of spinal cord  injury. Biodegradable polymers can simultaneously provide structural guidance at a cellular level and a reservoir  for sustained gene delivery. This integrative approach suggests a possible treatment strategy and may serve as an in vivo model for studying optimisation of various combinations of treatments.  Effectively directed neuron migration is critical for development and repair in the central nervous system. Endogenous electrical signals are present in many developing systems and crucial cellular behaviours such as neuronal cell division, cell migration and cell differentiation are all under the influence of such endogenous electrical cues. Pre-clinical in vivo studies have used electric fields to attempt to enhance re-growth of damaged spinal cord axons with some success. We recently demonstrated that small electric fields not only guide axonal growth, but also can direct the earlier events of neuronal migration and neuronal cell division. This raises the possibility that applied or endogenous electric fields, perhaps in combination, may direct transplanted neural stem cells, or regenerating neurons, to the desired site after brain injury or neuron degeneration. The high complexity of both structure and function of the central nervous system however, poses significant challenges to techniques for applying electric fields to promote neurogenesis. The evolution of functional biomaterials and nanotechnology may provide promising solutions for the application of electric fields in guiding neuron migration in neurogenesis within the central nervous system.