The Kavli Foundation Lecture series featured a prominent scientist in medical materials who has engineered tissues and medical materials such as a stretchy glue that could transform surgery. The presentation was made at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Khademhosseini is at the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
His research involves the development of micro- and nanoscale technologies to control cellular behavior and systems for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. He is also developing innovative medical materials, including surgical sealants and injectable gels that could stop internal bleeding in a noninvasive way. For these applications, he uses protein-based hydrogels.
"For example, these materials could be used in lung surgery," Khademhosseini explains. "If there's a tumor, the surgeon cuts it out and can suture the site. But sutures don't completely close the incision, so air and liquid can leak. To avoid these leaks, you need to put in some kind of sealant."
The trick is making the sealant tough but stretchy. Khademhosseini's team has developed a gel material that meets these criteria. And because it's made out of a human protein, the gel shouldn't raise the immune system's alarms. The researchers are currently testing the sealant in animals.
Engineered hydrogel biomaterials for regenerative medicine applications
Engineered materials that integrate advances in polymer chemistry, nanotechnology, and biological sciences have the potential to create powerful medical therapies. Our group aims to engineer tissue regenerative therapies using water-containing polymer networks, called hydrogels, that can regulate cell behavior. Specifically, we have developed photocrosslinkable hybrid hydrogels that combine natural biomolecules with nanoparticles to regulate the chemical, biological, mechanical and electrical properties of gels. These functional scaffolds induce the differentiation of stem cells to desired cell types and direct the formation of vascularized heart or bone tissues. Since tissue function is highly dependent on architecture, we have also used microfabrication methods, such as microfluidics, photolithography, bioprinting, and molding, to regulate the architecture of these materials. We have employed these strategies to generate miniaturized tissue modules. To create tissue complexity, we have also developed directed assembly techniques to compile small tissue modules into larger constructs. It is anticipated that such approaches will lead to the development of next-generation regenerative therapeutics and biomedical devices.