Reparative and Regenerative Medicine

Vision: On-demand personalized tissue repair and regeneration

Reparative and regenerative medicine emerged in the early 20th century, first with the successful transplantation of bone, soft tissue, corneas, and skin, and followed in the 1950’s by the transplantation of whole organs, including kidneys, hearts, and lungs. Along with the rapid development of transplant medicine came a greater understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that govern cell, tissue, and organ development and function, and it is now possible to generate functional tissues and organs in the laboratory. Despite significant advances over the last 100 years, tissue regeneration remains a complex and multi-factorial problem.
Stem cell biology, among other fields, have identified the microenvironment (or niche) as a critical element in regulating cell proliferation and differentiation. Interactions among the proliferating/differentiating cells and other components of this microenvironment are complex and depend upon bidirectional physical, mechanical, and biochemical signals, and these interactions are essential to determine stem cell fate and maintain the proper balance between proliferation and differentiation. To advance this field, CEPM will focus on the composition, regulation, and properties of the microenvironment including the extracellular matrix, angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation), and various biophysical factors, as well as its effect on regenerating cells and designer cells that have been reprogramed to repair and regenerate in diseased or compromised environment. In addition, we will develop tools to control and manipulate the microenvironment along with systems biology computational approaches to test hypotheses and reveal emergent properties that may not be evident from direct experiments. Finally, to achieve functional regeneration and repair, we will focus on how the tissue can be correctly organized and all of the component parts properly connected, including the physical, mechanical, and biochemical pathways within the microenvironment and neural re-innervation or re-mapping of extant neural connections.

Project Name: Diabetes induced disc degeneration

PIs: James Iatridis, PhD (Mount Sinai), Deepak Vashishth, PhD (RPI)

Abstract: Low back pain is a global health epidemic commonly associated with painful intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) and its increasing incidence involves economic costs of more than $100 billion. Research into mechanisms and novel treatments for IDD is a major research priority. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and diet can increase painful IDD and spine surgery complications. Establishing a mechanistic relationship between T2DM and IDD may result in novel therapies for some T2DM patients and all IDD patients. The broad goal of this project is to characterize and improve understanding of mechanisms for T2DM- and diet-induced IDD and to develop safe and effective treatments to maintain a healthy spine and slow the progression of painful IDD.

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