© Yanka & Yolanda Van der Kolk, Imaging & Photography
Molly Shoichet, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Biomaterial as a survival-promoting matrix for cell transplants

Funded in: 2014, 2015, 2016

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Problem: After transplantation, most of the cells perish, that were intended to promote repair.

Target: Enhancing survival of transplanted oligodendrocyte precursor cells using a specifically engineered biomaterial

Goal: Enhancing tissue and functional repair by improvement of the survival of transplanted cells

In spinal cord injury, secondary injury results in significant loss in neural tissue, which results in reduced function. It is envisioned that increased survival and host tissue integration will promote improved tissue repair and functional recovery.

Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) have been shown to promote repair; however, most of these cells perish soon after transplantation. The team will investigate spinal cord tissue repair with the transplantation of OPCs derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells, thereby using a readily available source of cells. To enhance cell survival a specifically engineered biomaterial will be used, as biomaterials can provide an environment with a specific cell-adhesive matrix and growth factors.
Anticipating greater cell survival and enhanced tissue and functional repair in the animal model, the ultimate goal of the project is the translation these data to humans.