Cátia Filipa Medina Bandeiras will be defending her PhD thesis in Bioengineering (MIT Portugal Program) on Friday the 8th November 2019 (14 H, amphitheater PA-3, Mathematics Building). During the last years, and under the supervision of Frederico Ferreira from SCERG and BERG-IBB and Stan Finkelstein from MIT, Cátia developed an open-source framework for combined bioprocess and health economics modeling, aiming at the evaluation of stem cell engineering innovations towards the commercialization of stem cell-based therapies. She used this framework to evaluate the impact of manufacturing component choices, like culture media and expansion technologies, the scale of manufacturing, and the long-term cost-effectiveness of stem cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes and cystic fibrosis. This computational approach, based on experimental data, provided cues for additional reductions in the cost of goods, and recommendations for precision medicine of these prospective therapies. The title of the thesis is “TESSEE – Tool for Early Stem Cells Economic Evaluation”.
Mariana Branco, a PhD candidate at the Stem Cell Engineering Research Group of iBB (SCERG-iBB), was awarded with the prize of best oral presentation at the 11th International Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Stem Cells and Cell Therapies (SPCE-TC) that was held during the last 11 – 13th of October at Faculdade de Farmácia of Universidade de Lisboa. The oral communication was entitled “Transcriptomic analysis of 3D cardiac differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells reveals faster maturation of cardiomyocytes compared to 2D culture”. Congratulations Mariana!
Tiago G. Fernandes from SCERG-iBB is guest-editing a special topic for the open-access journal "Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology" entitled "Stem Cell Systems Bioengineering". Advances in the bioengineering field have allowed the manipulation of singular aspects of the cellular microenvironment, and this Research Topic aims to focus on outstanding examples of bioengineering approaches used to promote the self-organization of human cells and the production of tissue-like structure formation.
Bioreactors that provide different biophysical stimuli have been used in tissue engineering approaches aimed at enhancing the quality of the cartilage tissue generated. However, such systems are often highly complex, costly and not very versatile. In a recent study published in Biotechnology Journal, researchers from SCERG-iBB working with colleagues from the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) developed a novel, cost-effective and customizable perfusion bioreactor fabricated by additive manufacturing (AM) to study of the effect of fluid flow on the chondrogenic differentiation of human bone-marrow mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (hBMSCs) in 3D porous poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds. Results suggest that the chondrogenic differentiation of hBMSCs was enhanced in cell-scaffold constructs cultured under perfusion and highlights the potential of customizable AM platforms for developing more reliable in vitro models and improved personalized cartilage repair strategies.
Cátia Bandeiras from SCERG-iBB was one of the three winners of the “Best Student Paper Track” at the 15th Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing (MEDICON). Catia presented a poster about her paper, focused on the methodology developed during her PhD, entitled “TESSEE – Tool for Early Stem Cells Economic Evaluation”. The work involves a collaboration between iBB, IDSS-MIT (Boston, United States), and medical experts in two American hospitals. The PhD thesis is supervised at IST by Frederico Castelo Ferreira and Stan Neil Finkelstein at IDSS-MIT. The conference took place in Coimbra, Portugal, on 26-28 September.
Sara Morini from SCERG-iBB delivered an oral presentation at the 15th Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing (MEDICON). Sara presented her PhD work in a presentation entitled: “Isolation, characterization and dynamic expansion of non-parenchymal cells for the recellularization of a porcine whole liver”. The work involves a collaboration between iBB and IIS Aragón (Zaragoza, Spain), being supervised at IST by Dr. Ana Fernandes-Platzgummer and Prof. Pedro M. Baptista at IIS Aragón. The conference took place in Coimbra, Portugal on the 26-28th September.
Miguel de Almeida Fuzeta from SCERG-iBB delivered an oral presentation at the Nanotechnology in Cancer: Engineering for Oncology conference, organized by the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR). At the conference, Miguel (5th from left in the picture) was awarded a travelling grant by EACR and Worldwide Cancer Research. In his presentation, entitled “Manufacturing Human Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cell (MSC)-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Vertical-Wheel Bioreactors for Cancer Therapy” he reported his PhD work so far. The work involves a collaboration between researchers from iBB and iMM Lisboa, being supervised at IST by Prof. Cláudia Lobato da Silva and Dr. Nuno Bernardes. This conference gathered a multidisciplinary set of researchers using nanotechnology strategies for cancer therapy and diagnostics. The conference took place in Cambridge, United Kingdom on the 12-14th September.
João Carlos Fernandes da Silva will be defending his PhD thesis in Bioengineering (Cell Therapies and regenerative Medicine) at Instituto Superior Técnico, friday the 27th september 2019 (14:00 H, room PA-3). During the last years, and under the supervision of Frederico Ferreira from SCERG-iBB and Robert Linhardt from RPI, João focused his efforts on the fabrication of hierarchical and biomimetic cartilage constructs. The title of his thesis is "Bioengineering strategies towards the in vitro fabrication of hierarchical and biomimetic cartilage constructs".
Sara Lourenço Rosa will be defending her PhD thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciencesat Instituto Superior Técnico, monday the 9th september 2019 (14:30 H, room PA-3). During the last years, and under the supervision of Ana Azevedo from BERG-iBB and Cláudia Lobato-Silva from SCERG-iBB, Sara explored phenyl boronate chromatography as an alternative technique to purify biomolecules such as antibodies. The title of her thesis is "A phenylboronate chromatography based approach as an effective alternative for downstream processing of biomolecules".
Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) represent an almost limitless source of cells for biomedical applications including cardiomyocytes (CMs), the most predominant cell type in the human heart. iBB researchers have established an efficient and robust 3D platform for CM production from hiPSCs and studied the impact of 3D culture on CM differentiation and maturation compared with a 2D monolayer culture. It was found that CMs mature earlier and show an improved communication system in this 3D environment which was suggested to be responsible for a higher structural and functional maturation. This novel 3D culture platform and the CMs obtained can be used for disease modelling, drug screening and cardiotoxicity tests. The results were published in Scientific Reports.
SCERG PhD students Ana Rita Gomes and Miguel Fuzeta presented their work at the DBE seminars last June 17th. Click the title for photos.
Cultured cell-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) has been used as a scaffold for tissue engineering settings to create a biomimetic microenvironment, providing physical, chemical and mechanical cues to cells and support cellular activities, mimicking the composition and organization of native ECM microenvironment. In a recent study published in Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, researchers from SCERG-iBB working with colleagues from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a new strategy to produce different combinations of decellularized cultured cell-derived ECM obtained from different cultured cell types, namely mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), as well as the co-culture of MSC:HUVEC and investigate the effects of its various compositions on osteogenic differentiation and angiogenic properties of human bone marrow (BM)-derived MSC, vital features for adult bone tissue regeneration and repair. These results suggest that decellularized ECM derived from a co-culture of MSC:HUVEC impacts the osteogenic and angiogenic capabilities of BM MSC, suggesting the potential use of MSC:HUVEC ECM as a therapeutic product to improve clinical outcomes in bone regeneration.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease where patients need to monitor and take insulin daily. Transplantation of encapsulated islet cells is performed in some countries to restore glucose control, but shortage of donors is a major bottleneck. Devices with stem cell-derived beta cells are now in clinical trials. Researchers at SCERG-iBB and Harvard Medical School performed an early health technology assessment modeling study to simulate, based on bioprocess and disease progression modeling, the manufacturing costs of devices containing pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-derived beta cells. This information was combined with medical data to determine cost-effectiveness of the new therapy. The work was published in Biotechnology Journal.
Joana Serra will be defending her PhD thesis in Bioengineering at Instituto Superior Técnico, friday the 7th June 2019 (10:30 H, room Q4.41). During the last years, and under the supervision of Miguel Prazeres from BERG-iBB and Cláudia Lobato-Silva from SCERG-iBB, Joana focused her efforts on the genetic modification of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells with VEGF-coding minicircles to improve their therapeutic features in the context of ischemia. The title of her thesis is "Ex-vivo gene therapy to improve the regenerative features of human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) in a model of limb.
Human morphogenesis is a complex process involving distinct microenvironmental and physical signals that are manipulated in space and time to give rise to complex tissues and organs. The development of organoids represents a novel way to modeling such complexity. Advances in the bioengineering field have allowed the manipulation of different components, including cellular and noncellular factors, to better mimic the natural microenvironment and generate better organoid models of human morphogenesis. In a paper published in Stem Cells International, a team of researchers from the Stem Cell Engineering Research Group (SCERG) at iBB in collaboration with the Institute of Molecular Medicine reviewed the bioengineering strategies used to control the initial state and spatiotemporal positioning of cells within organoids and, lastly, the growth and remodeling of multicellular aggregates to achieve mini organ-like structures.
The 5th edition of the PhD Open Days of IST took place on the 9th and 10th of April. PhD students André Branco, Cátia Bandeiras, Diogo Nogueira, Marília Silva, Miguel Fuzeta and Sara Morini presented their work in the event's poster session. Click the title for the group photo and here for more information.
Tânia Daniela Cavaleiras Baltazar will be defending her PhD thesis in Bioengineering (Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine) at Instituto Superior Técnico, thursday the 21st March 2019 (12:30 H, room PA3). During the last years, and under the supervision of Frederico Ferreira from SCERG-iBB and Pankaj Karande from RPI, Tânia focused her efforts on the development of a 3D printed in vitro vascularized human skin model for clinical applications. The title of her thesis is "Design and Fabrication of Full-Thickness Vascularized Human Skin With 3D Bioprinting Technology”.
There is a high demand for functional bone grafts worldwide partly due to the increased life expectancy. Bone matrix proteins, especially osteopontin (OPN) and osteocalcin (OC), have been reported to regulate some physiological process, such as cell migration and bone mineralization. However, the effects of OPN and OC on cell proliferation, osteogenic differentiation, mineralization and angiogenesis are still undefined. In a recent study published in Journal of Cellular and Biochemistry, researchers from SCERG-iBB working with colleagues from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assessed the exogenous effect of OPN and OC supplementation on human bone marrow mesenchymal stem/stromal cells proliferation and osteogenic differentiation. These results suggest that OC and OPN stimulate bone regeneration by inducing stem cell proliferation, osteogenesis and by enhancing angiogenic properties. The synergistic effect of OC and OPN observed in this study can be applied as an attractive strategy for bone regeneration therapeutics by targeting different vital cellular processes.
Cell-derived ECM have emerged as promising materials for regenerative medicine due to their ability to recapitulate the native tissue microenvironment. However, little is known about the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) composition of these cell-derived ECM. In a recent study published in Glycoconjugate Journal, researchers from SCERG-iBB, working in collaboration with colleagues from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, characterized three different cell-derived ECM in terms of their GAG content, composition and sulfation patterns using a highly sensitive LC-MS/MS technique. Distinct GAG compositions and disaccharide sulfation patterns were verified for the different cell-derived ECM. Additionally, the effect of decellularization method on the GAG and disaccharide relative composition was also assessed. The method offers a novel approach to determine the GAG composition of cell-derived ECM, which we believe is critical for a better understanding of ECM role in directing cellular responses and has the potential for generating important knowledge for the development of new ECM-like biomaterials for tissue engineering applications.
Cell-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) has been employed as scaffolds for tissue engineering. SCERG-iBB researchers working with colleagues from the Rensselaer Polytechnic developed bioactive cell-derived ECM electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds produced from ECM derived from human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC), human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and their combination based on the hypothesis that the cell-derived ECM incorporated into the PCL fibers would enhance the biofunctionality of the scaffold. The findings show that all cell-derived ECM electrospun scaffolds promoted significant cell proliferation compared to PCL alone, while presenting similar physical/mechanical properties. Additionally, MSC:HUVEC-ECM electrospun scaffolds significantly enhanced osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. The study was published in Materials Science and Engineering: C.
Recently-graduated alumni of IST gathered last Saturday, the 12th of January, at Aula Magna for the 10th Graduation Day cerimony, where they received their course diplomas. Former PhD student Raquel Cunha and former MSc students Ana Sofia Borges, Joaquim Godinho and Rodrigo Pedroso, who developed their theses at SCERG, were present at this cerimony. Click the title for photos.