We are interested in the research of musculoskeletal tissue regeneration using a stem cell-based tissue engineering approach. Stem cells are a cell source with tremendous potential to serve as therapeutic agents for the treatment of degenerative musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis. The stem cell-based tissue engineering approach is to grow harvested stem cells in a three-dimensional, highly porous, biomimetic scaffold under a biologically favored in vitro environment in which the needed biochemical and biomechanical signals are provided for stem cell proliferation and differentiation, extracellular matrix production, and tissue maturation.
We have three specific research goals:
- Maintain the stemness properties of stem cells in vitro before the induction of differentiation
- Effectively differentiate stem cells into desired connective tissue-specific lineages
- Promote the development of the cellular construct into a mature, functional tissue
To achieve these goals, we utilize unique extracellular matrix-like nanofibers functioning as a stem cell niche to maintain the biological properties of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. With the cues from growth factors and/or other inductive chemicals, mesenchymal stem cells cultured in nanofiber-based scaffolds can be effectively differentiated and produce tissue-specific extracellular matrix, generating tissue-engineered musculoskeletal tissues such as bone and cartilage.