Research in a Nut Shell

Our RESEARCH in a Nut Shell

1. Tissue Regeneration – what is it – Tissue Regeneration focuses on guiding the body to heal itself by stimulating cells to rejuvenate damaged tissues.

2. The Need – From 2000 to 2009 only around 19-30% of the need for organ transplants was addressed.

3. In addition, there are “quality of life” organ damage situations, such as ligament repair and vocal fold repair, for which current surgical treatments are limited.

4. You might have seen – 1995, Dr. Charles Vacanti and Dr. Linda Griffith implanted a biomaterial shaped like a human ear and containing cartilage cells into the back of a mouse. Essentially the mouse acted like an “incubator”, feeding the embedded cartilage cells and allowing them to produce new cartilage, the inner component of the ear. The result was a human-shaped ear. Although this approach represented a major advance, a problem with this approach was that using the body as an “incubator” for growing replacement tissue isn’t always feasible. In addition, it gives no insight into how the embedded cells were guided to regenerate the tissue. This means that trying to reproduce this result outside the body would be nearly impossible.

5. But this taught Dr Hahn to go back to the drawing board, and focus on trying to understand the way that cells interact with and respond to various signals in their environment. Understanding the way cells respond to particular signals should eventually enable the design of laboratory “incubators” that guide the regeneration of specific tissues

6. Our Focus – In the Hahn Tissue Lab, our particular focus is understanding cell responses to signals provided by their biomaterial environment.

7. Our Goal – Our end goal is to be able to engineer blood vessels, vocal folds, and bone tissue replacements.

Some Bragging Rights –

Our lab developed a new method to assess the hydrophobicity of scaffolds which overcomes the limitations of contact angle and protein adsorption assessments. This method is analogous to the logP method of evaluating molecular hydrophobicity and represents a powerful tool for accurately assessing hydrogel hydrophobicity for tissue engineering,drug delivery, and medical device (e.g. contact lenses) applications-In conjunction with the lab of Dr. I Karaman, our research team was the first to evaluate the cytocompatibility of TiNb alloys to Nitinol and Titanium. TiNb alloys are composed of two biocompatible constituents, as opposed to Nitinol which contains toxic Ni. In addition, certain TiNb alloys display the shape-memory character of Nitinol. Thus, TiNb alloys represent a potential alternative to Nitinol in certain biomedical application.