“Systems Tissue Engineering”
Strategies for promoting tissue growth provide enabling technologies for either enhancing regeneration for diseased or injured tissues, or to investigate abnormal tissue formation such as cancer. Given the complexity inherent in tissues, my laboratory is working towards the concept of “Systems Tissue Engineering”, which indicates the dual need i) to develop systems capable of presenting combinations of factors that drive tissue growth, as well as ii) to incorporate systems biology approaches that can identify the appropriate combination of factors. Biomaterial scaffolds represent a central component of many approaches and provide the enabling tools for creating an environment and/or deliver factors that can direct cellular processes toward tissue formation. We have developed scaffolds that are employed for cell transplantation, and the success of cell based therapies is impacted by the ability to modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses. Localized presentation or delivery of immunomodulatory factors has been able to delay or prevent cell rejection, whereas nanoparticles have been developed that present antigens with subsequent development of immune tolerance. Finally, scaffolds were adapted to simulate the pre-metastatic niche for the early detection of metastatic disease. The immune response has become a central focus, and will discuss the contributions of the immune cells to metastatic progression. The ability to modulate immune responses locally and/or systemically can enable the development of novel therapies for wide-ranging applications.