Investigating the use of bio-orthogonal click hydrogels for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications. We're interested in creating cell culture scaffolds that can be assembled from individual "building blocks" to create user-defined materials. We use micro-scale hydrogels (microgels) to create bottom-up fabricated porous scaffolds for the culture of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). The assembly process is cytocompatible, and by tuning particle size we can alter network parameters and cell growth characteristics.
While hMSCs maintain the ability to differentiate into multiple different cell lineages, recent evidence suggests that a large portion of their regenerative capability relies on their secretory potential. The milieu of growth factors secreted by these cells depends strongly on their cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. We're interested in controlling and directing the hMSC secretory phenotype by varying the local microenvironment using microgel based networks. A better understanding of the factors that influence hMSC secretions can help to improve regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies