Nav: Home

RIT awarded $1.8 million NIH grant to develop ultrathin membranes for tissue engineering

October 31, 2016

Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology are advancing tissue engineering through new work in developing improved porous membranes that will be the "scaffolds," or foundational structures, for in vitro tissue models.

"We are building membranes that will not only solve the needs of researchers studying the basic biology of barriers, but also scientists and engineers investigating drug discovery and stem cell differentiation," said Thomas Gaborski, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering. "Half of this work is about the development of membrane technology, and the other half is about developing better in vitro barrier model systems."

Gaborski was awarded a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop "Transparent ultrathin nano-membranes for barrier cell models and novel co-cultures systems." This is a new investigator award given to early-career faculty-researchers who propose innovative approaches to high-impact projects. His work is in developing nano-membranes, including new, ultrathin, transparent glass membranes, and performing collaborative work with other researchers in the fields of physiological barrier models and stem cell differentiation.

One of the technologies he and his team are working on are "glass" membranes that are optically transparent allowing researchers the ability to visualize cellular processes in real-time and in high resolution. Conventional membranes currently used in research labs to build engineered tissues are often thick and usually opaque, making it difficult to see details at the cellular level. Gaborski's new design will be an advance in the technique.

"Current membranes are limiting because they don't allow easy physical and biochemical communication between cells that are on opposite sides of the membranes," he explained. "Most barriers in your body are not made up of a single layer of cells but multiple layers, and this membrane must support the cells, while also preventing them from mixing with one another.

"We want to create stratified layers of tissue in the laboratory, but current membranes are thick and not as porous, so that limits cell-to-cell communication. We want something that provides a scaffold for growth, but does not hinder natural processes."

In addition to developing new membranes, Gaborski's research team will continue to focus on cell-substrate interactions and vascular barrier models. In 2014, he was presented the Young Innovator Award in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering given by the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) for his work in developing porous membranes and co-culture systems using vascular endothelial and adipose-derived stem cells. His team is developing ways to use ultra-thin nano-membranes to differentiate stem cells into the cells necessary to create vascular networks. These cells could ultimately be used to create blood vessels within engineered tissues and organs.

Gaborski and his team are also using transparent membranes to investigate fundamental cellular interactions. His team recently returned from the annual BMES conference where they presented results showing that membrane properties could be optimized to reduce cell-substrate interactions and instead promote cell-to-cell interactions. In the future, membrane pore properties could be engineered to create more physiologically relevant culture substrates to enhance barrier formation in these micro-physiological systems. More realistic in vitro barrier models would benefit drug delivery research as well as a better understanding of tissue formation, he explained.
-end-


Rochester Institute of Technology

Related Engineering Articles:

Engineering a new cancer detection tool
E. coli may have potentially harmful effects but scientists in Australia have discovered this bacterium produces a toxin which binds to an unusual sugar that is part of carbohydrate structures present on cells not usually produced by healthy cells.
Engineering heart valves for the many
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the University of Zurich announced today a cross-institutional team effort to generate a functional heart valve replacement with the capacity for repair, regeneration, and growth.
Geosciences-inspired engineering
The Mackenzie Dike Swarm and the roughly 120 other known giant dike swarms located across the planet may also provide useful information about efficient extraction of oil and natural gas in today's modern world.
Engineering success
Academically strong, low-income would-be engineers get the boost they need to complete their undergraduate degrees.
HKU Engineering Professor Ron Hui named a Fellow by the UK Royal Academy of Engineering
Professor Ron Hui, Chair Professor of Power Electronics and Philip Wong Wilson Wong Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, has been named a Fellow by the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, one of the most prestigious national academies.
Engineering a better biofuel
The often-maligned E. coli bacteria has powerhouse potential: in the lab, it has the ability to crank out fuels, pharmaceuticals and other useful products at a rapid rate.
Pascali honored for contributions to engineering education
Raresh Pascali, instructional associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program at the University of Houston, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Ross Kastor Educator Award.
Scaling up tissue engineering
A team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A.
Engineering material magic
University of Utah engineers have discovered a new kind of 2-D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that also consume a lot less power.
Engineering academic elected a Fellow of the IEEE
A University of Bristol academic has been elected a Fellow of the world's largest and most prestigious professional association for the advancement of technology.

Related Engineering Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...