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Materials Science Tools for Regenerative Medicine


Regenerative therapies originating from recent technological advances in biology could revolutionize medicine in the coming years. In particular, the advent of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), with their ability to become any cell in the adult body, has opened the door to an entirely new way of treating disease. However, currently these medical breakthroughs remain only a promise. To make them a reality, new tools must be developed to surmount the new technical hurdles that have arisen from dramatic departure from convention that this field represents.

The collected work presented in this dissertation covers several projects that seek to apply the skills and knowledge of materials science to this tool synthesizing effort. The work is divided into three chapters. The first deals with our work to apply Raman spectroscopy, a tool widely used for materials characterization, to degeneration in cartilage. We have shown that Raman can effectively distinguish the matrix material of healthy and diseased tissue. The second area of work covered is the development of a new confocal image analysis for studying hPSC colonies that are chemical confined to uniform growth regions. This tool has important application in understanding the heterogeneity that may slow the development of hPSC -based treatment, as well as the use of such confinement in the eventually large-scale manufacture of hPSCs for therapeutic use. Third, the use of structural templating in tissue engineering scaffolds is detailed. We have utilized templating to tailor scaffold structures for engineering of constructs mimicking two tissues: cartilage and lung.

The work described here represents several important early steps towards large goals in regenerative medicine. These tools show a great deal of potential for accelerating progress in this field that seems on the cusp of helping a great many people with otherwise incurable disease.

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