CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Tissue implants made of cells grown on a sponge-like scaffold have been shown in clinical trials to help heal arteries scarred by atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases. However, it has been unclear why some implants work better than others.
MIT researchers led by Elazer Edelman, the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, have now shown that implanted cells' therapeutic properties depend on their shape, which is determined by the type of scaffold on which they are grown. The work could allow scientists to develop even more effective implants and also target many other diseases, including cancer.
"The goal is to design a material that can engineer the cells to release whatever we think is most appropriate to fight a specific disease. Then we can implant the cells and use them as an incubator," says Laura Indolfi, a postdoc in Edelman's lab and lead author of a paper on the research recently published online in the journal Biomaterials.
Aaron Baker, a former postdoc in Edelman's lab and now an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is also an author of the paper.
For the past 20 years, Edelman has been working on using endothelial cells grown on scaffolds made of collagen as implantable devices to treat blood vessel damage. Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and regulate important process such as tissue repair and inflammation by releasing molecules such as chemokines, small proteins that carry messages between cells.
Several of the devices have been tested in clinical trials to treat blood vessel damage; in the new Biomaterials study, Edelman and Indolfi set out to determine what makes one such tissue scaffold more effective than another. In particular, they were interested in comparing endothelial cells grown on flat surfaces and those grown on more porous, three-dimensional scaffolds. The cell
|Contact: Caroline McCall|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology