CELL-/TISSUE MATERIAL INTERACTIONS

Research activities

Team

Selected publications

 

Our group aims to understand the mechanisms of how human cells and tissues interact with materials/material surfaces and, in close collaboration with clinics and industry, to use this knowledge to develop novel materials for unmet clinical needs.

We develop tissue-specific advanced in vitro models that more closely mimic the in vivo situation to investigate the interactions of cells and tissues with materials. We study the early events of blood-material interaction and its influence on human cell response governing integration or non-integration of materials into host tissue as well as cellular processes involved in wound healing, mainly focusing on bone, skin and soft tissue.

Scrutinizing cellular signaling pathways, we explore how the tissue response can be steered with surface functionalization or controlled release of bioactive molecules from materials. Ultimately, we evaluate the predictive power of our models via correlation with in vivo results and clinical data in collaboration with our academic, industrial and clinical partners. For this, we use state of the art techniques including gene- and protein expression analysis as well as microscopy techniques.

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Materials to improve wound healing

When damage to the body occurs, healing processes often lead to fibrosis or tissue scarring, where normal tissue is replaced by permanent scar/fibrotic tissue with impaired functionality.

Our goal is to understand the occurrence of and mechanisms involved in impaired wound healing and tissue scarring for the development of novel, material-based treatment strategies. We explore and develop new materials and fabrication concepts to create tailor-made solutions for different wound pathologies. Furthermore, we develop new advanced in vitro 3D co-culture models and use analytical tools including omics-technology, ELISA, SEM or 2-photon microscopy.

 

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Fig.1 Photograph, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of a porous, degradable 3D scaffold loaded with curcumin and fibroblasts (colored in brown) attaching to and growing into the foam.
Selected research topics:
Steering integration and non-integration of materials

Implantable biomaterials are designed to function either in a transient or permanent manner. Depending on the clinical indication, integration of an implant material into the host tissue is desired or needs to be avoided. Generally, fast and specific protein adsorption and enhanced cell migration towards the implant is beneficial in the former situation, whereas non-fouling is favored in the latter one.  In both cases however, implant surface properties including roughness, surface chemistry or wettability influence the tissue response to the material. Addition of drug-release functionality to a material can be used to further enhance such a response or to add novel properties such as an antibacterial effect to the material.

Our aim is to understand how such material properties influence different stages of the tissue response to implants, ranging from blood-material interaction to immune cell recruitment to cell differentiation processes, and to develop novel materials and material surfaces to either achieve or to avoid tissue integration. For this, we develop in vitro 3D models that mimic the target tissue and that allow to recreate the situation during implantation of a material in vitro.

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Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) image of human bone cells (actin cytoskeleton in green, nuclei in blue) on blood-derived fibrin (red) formed on micro-rough zirconia after 24 hours of culture (left side), growing into collagen hydroxyapatite scaffolds after 28 days (middle) or growing into a polyurethane scaffold after 3 days (right side).
Controlling the immune response towards materials

The immune response is a key element of wound healing and when the body interacts with implanted materials. Encompassing a complex and coordinated series of events, any disturbance can lead to a variety of pathologies or the development of fibrotic tissue in response to implantation of materials.

Our aim is thus to better understand how we can control the immune cell response (e.g. the switch during macrophage polarization into a pro- or anti-inflammatory phenotype) in wound healing but also in contact with engineered materials, and develop novel biomaterials with local immunomodulation capabilities (e.g. 3D scaffolds with controlled drug release). 
 

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Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) image of macrophages cultured for 24 hours on a 3D silk scaffold and stained for the cytoskeleton (green) and nuclei (blue) (left side). Colorized scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) image of a macrophage on a fibrin-gel (right side)

Team
 

Dr. Yashoda Chandorkar
Scientist


Dr. William Lackington
PostDoc


Judith Ng
PhD student


Ke Yang
PhD Student


Dr. med et Dr. med. dent. Matthias G. Wiesli
PhD student


Stefanie Guimond
Technical Expert


Yvonne Elbs-Glatz
Technician


Lada Fleyshman
Master student


Barbora Kolrosová
Master student


Moritz Valeske
Master student


Pascal Boucq
Master student


Milo Rechsteiner
Pre-study internship

 

Associated

Dr. Fabian Itel
Scientist


Tobias Hammer
PhD candidate

 

Alumni 

Dr. Arie Bruinink, Scientist
Dr. Géraldine Guex, Scientist
Dr. Vera Malheiro, PostDoc/Scientist
Dr. Samantha Chan, PostDoc/Scientist
Dr. Xiao-Hua Qin, PostDoc/Scientist
Dr. Eike Müller, PostDoc/Scientist
Dr. Berna Neidhart, PostDoc/Scientist
Rebecca Huber, PhD candidate
Gökce Yazgan, PhD candidate
Lukas Weidenbacher, PhD candidate
Chiara Griffoni, PhD candidate
Anne-Sophie Mertgen, PhD candidate
Amin Zakeri Ziavashani, guest PhD candidate
Marielle Hintereder, Master student
Andrej Eigenmann, Bachelor student
Tanja Schwalm, pre-study internship
Leonie Bannwarth, pre-study internship