Biomaterials for the assemblage of regenerative-inspired scaffolds for the electrical stimulation of spinal cord

  • Vashishth, Deepak D. (PI)
  • Vashishth, Deepak (CoPI)
  • Manuel Ferreira Morgado, Jorge J. (CoPI)
  • Aguiar, António A. (CoPI)
  • Ferreira, Frederico F. (CoPI)
  • Linhardt, Robert R. (CoPI)
  • Gross, Richard Alan R.A. (CoPI)
  • Linhardt, , Robert (CoPI)
  • De Matos Charas, Ana Maria A.M. (CoPI)

Project Details


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ALS is a neurodegenerative disease of the spinal cord that impairs not only peripheral neurons but also bone health. ALS patients tend to be prone to osteoporosis. Moreover, several studies point to a relationship between ALS and higher bone resorption, osteoblast function impairment and calcium-induced neurotoxicity. In the end, these patients lose autonomy and depend on caretakers for their basic needs, affecting the well-being of society a whole. Stem cell therapy strategies promise to tackle ALS progression and hope in developing in vitro models to test new therapies. These cells can be propagated and differentiated using pre-established protocols but depend on scaffolds to guide their migration and differentiation in specialized cell niches. Project BioMaterARISES aims at producing biodegradable/biodispersible and electroconductive materials. These can be then used in the construction of in vitro models/scaffolds to study ALS disease progression, namely bone-neural interaction, and boost tissue integration when transplanted. In the case of ALS, such scaffold has to mimic a vertebrae. The team of BioMaterARISES knows these scaffolds, to be used in medical applications, have to be biodispersible/biodegradable, biocompatible, able to mimic the target tissue properties and also enhance cell differentiation. As such, the research in this project will focus on 3 key areas: 1. Creation of a biocompatible and 100% biodegradable/biodispersible electrocomposite; 2. Development of a unique strategy to improve the bioactivity of such electrocomposites for the enhancement of osteogenic differentiation of cells; 3. Produce a 100% biodegradable/biodispersible and bioactive 3D-printed scaffold for the electrical stimulation of differentiating cells. To ensure the success of such endeavor, we at project BioMaterARISES propose a unique strategy for designing the electrocomposite. This will be composed of polyglycerolsebacate PGS, biodegradable, versatile and suitable for bone and neural application, and oligomers of 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene OligoEDOT,biodispersible due to their low molecular weight. In parallel, the effect of several bioactive cues, separately or in combination, will be for the first time compared on Mesenchymal Stem Cells MSCs osteogenic differentiation. Some of these include: glycosaminoglycans GAGs, apatite crystals and proteins e.g. osteocalcin and osteopontin. The best combination will then be used in the production of a 3D-printed scaffold, capable of stimulating electrically MSCs when differentiating into bone. At project BioMaterARISES we believe our work will shape future approaches to the design of electroconductive and bioactive scaffolds for tissue engineering. This is why the work of BioMaterARISES will be coordinated by Instituto de Telecomunicações IT-Lisbon, a national reference on electronics and material synthesis. Scaffold development, bioactivation and electrical stimulation experiments will be performed at Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, whose expertises will support this highly ambitious project.

Effective start/end date1/12/2131/05/23


  • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia: $55,970.00


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