Ali Borelli
Graduate Student
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Osteoarthritis (OA) of articulating joints is a leading cause of pain and disability among millions of people worldwide.1 OA is believed to be caused from wear and tear damage breaking down the hyaline cartilage and causing inflammation of the joint. Pain associated with OA is intensified by inflammatory mediators responding to the damaged tissue leading to a loss of mobility and a diminished quality of life.2 Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) are known to interact with inflammatory mediators via paracrine signaling and secrete many cytokines and chemokines that mediate the inflammatory response.

Regenerative Medicine is an expanding field of translational research focusing on using the body’s own healing mechanisms to promote repair of damaged tissue. One area of this field utilizes MSCs which are adult multipotent stem cells primarily isolated from fat adipose tissue and bone marrow. These cells have been shown to decrease symptoms associated with OA when injected intraarticularly.3 Current studies indicate these injections with stem cells can decrease pain and increase function safely in the degenerated joints. However, there is still high variability in the desired clinical outcomes from current stem cell therapies, indicating a reliable treatment has yet to be discovered.4 My current project is focused on developing a biomaterial system which can encapsulate and protect MSCs upon injection and control the MSC secretome for therapeutic and regenerative medicine applications, specifically osteoarthritis.


  1. Allen, K. D. & Golightly, Y. M. Epidemiology of osteoarthritis: state of the evidence. Curr. Opin. Rheumatol. 27, 276 (2015).
  2. Lee, A. S., Ellman, M. B., Yan, D., Kroin, J. S., Cole, B. J., van Wijnen, A. J., & Im, H. J. A current review of molecular mechanisms regarding osteoarthritis and pain. Gene527(2), 440–447 (2013).
  3. Cunha, C. et al. Systemic Delivery of Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells for In Situ Intervertebral Disc Regeneration. Stem Cells Transl. Med. 6, 1029–1039 (2017).
  4. Noriega, D. C. et al. Intervertebral Disc Repair by Allogeneic Mesenchymal Bone Marrow Cells: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Transplantation 101, 1945–1951 (2017).