tissue engineering lab


Professor Detamore’s Tissue Engineering Laboratory was founded in 2004.  In short, our areas of expertise include tissue engineering, biomaterials, stem cells and biomechanics.  Biomaterials approaches include microsphere-based scaffolds, interpenetrating network hydrogels, colloidal gels, and electrospinning.  Our stem cell efforts are focused on umbilical cord stem cells in general and on gene delivery in particular.  Early biomechanics studies were focused on temporomandibular joint (TMJ) cartilages, and more recently we have turned our attention to consolidating testing methods for mechanical failure studies of cartilage and hydrogels.

In terms of our tissue engineering and regenerative medicine efforts, we primarily focus on bone and cartilage regeneration, including the TMJ, knee, cranium, and trachea.  In addition, our group is also exploring collaborations in cochlea and liver regeneration.

Overall, our group is best known for our work in the following areas:

  • The TMJ
    • Professor Detamore co-authored a book on TMJ tissue engineering and has authored a pair of invited book chapters on the subject.  In addition, he organized two NIH-funded TMJ Bioengineering Conferences and is a co-chair of another TMJ Bioengineering Conference in September 2012.  Professor Detamore and his group have authored numerous papers on the TMJ, and he is a long-time member of the American Society of TMJ Surgeons.
  • Gradients and interfacial tissue engineering
    • Our group has secured over $2 million in funding from the NIH, NSF and Coulter Foundation in this research area, which has led to two Top-5 cited papers in the journal Tissue Engineering.  In addition, our group wrote an invited book chapter on engineering graded tissue interfaces, and Professor Detamore guest-edited a Special Issue on “Interfacial Bioengineering” for the Annals of Biomedical Engineering in 2010, which was recognized by the journal as the outstanding special issue of the year. 
  • Umbilical cord stem cells
    • Our group has been recognized as the first to introduce umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells to 3D musculoskeletal tissue engineering in our most-cited paper (Bailey et al., Tissue Engineering, 2007).  These cells attract the most attention in terms of external requests for protocols and reprints, and not surprisingly a continuously growing number of investigators have started using UCMSCs in musculoskeletal tissue engineering, with a commensurate growth in publications in the field.

    Pictured on Right: Calcein AM fluorescence stain for live and dead UCMSCs. (Green = Live Cells)


Our Group Philosophies

Osteochondral regeneration is the key to articular cartilage regeneration.  We believe that the underlying bone can be leveraged for cartilage regeneration as 1) a reservoir for marrow stem cells and 2) an anchoring site for an implanted engineered construct.  For an example of our microsphere-based gradient scaffolds for osteochondral regeneration, see Mohan et al., Tissue Engineering Part A, 2011.

Gradients may be a missing ingredient in tissue engineering strategies.  Gradients are crucial for embryogenesis and wound healing, so perhaps gradients could be leveraged in tissue engineering strategies to facilitate regeneration.  Moreover, the transitions between tissues at an interface (e.g., muscle to tendon or cartilage to bone) are gradual rather than sharp interfaces, so perhaps our engineering strategies can better mimic this transition with gradient-based designs that include gradients not only in signal release, but also material composition and mechanical properties.  For more information on gradients in tissue engineering in general, see Singh et al., Tissue Engineering Part B, 2008.  For more information on continuously graded versus discrete interface designs for scaffolds, see Dormer et al., ABME, 2010.

The use of “raw materials” may facilitate and accelerate tissue regeneration.  We believe that natural materials found in the extracellular matrix of a given tissue of interest may be beneficial as 1) signaling molecules to elicit favorable cellular responses, and 2) building blocks that can be bioresorbed, as opposed to biodegraded and removed, and thus integrated into the regenerating tissue.

Umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly cells are a promising cell source for tissue engineering.  These cells, also known as umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells, are distinct from cord blood cells and from umbilical cord vessel cells, as they come from the Wharton’s jelly, or stroma, of the umbilical cord.  Banking technologies for these cells are already in place, enabling the collection of both autologous cells for newborns, as well as an extensive banking of cells that in the future may provide access to tissue typing for allogeneic cells.  For more information on these cells, see Wang et al., Regenerative Medicine, 2011 and Wang, Tran, et al., Tissue Engineering Part A, 2009.

Pictured on Left: Photograph of gradient scaffold under a UV lamp, containing opposing gradients of osteogenic microspheres (with Rhodamine dye - red color) and chondrogenic microspheres (without Rhodamine dye - no color).



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