From Zip Lining to Lego Building: Novel Hydrogels for Stem Cell-based Tissue Regeneration and Disease Modeling


Event details

Date and time 14.02.2020 15:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Fan Yang, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (USA)
Category Conferences - Seminars

Hydrogels are attractive choices of biomaterials for serving as artificial 3D cell niche given their injectability, ease for minimally invasive delivery, as well as tunable chemical and physical properties. In this talk, I will share three examples of our recent work on developing novel hydrogels with unique properties to either enhance stem cell differentiation and tissue regeneration, or for engineering 3D in vitro cancer models to bridge the gaps of existing cancer models and facilitate discovery of new therapies. Using physically-crosslinked alginate hydrogels, it has been reported that molecular mobility combined with viscoelasticity modulates stem cell differentiation. However, one key limitation of the existing hydrogel tools is the inability to decouple changes in viscoelasticity from molecular mobility. As such, how tuning molecular mobility alone modulate stem cell fates in 3D remains unknown. In the first example, I will share our work on developing novel sliding hydrogels that allows crosslinks and biochemical ligands to slide along the hydrogel backbone, enabling encapsulating cells to “zipline” crosslinks and ligands in 3D with independently tunable molecular mobility. Our results validate molecular mobility as a novel parameter in biomaterials design to accelerate stem cell differentiation towards multiple lineages, with improved tissue structures and functions. In the second example, I will share a “lego-like”, microribbon (μRB)-based hydrogels platform recently invented by our group. Unlike conventional hydrogels, these μRB-based hydrogels combines macroporosity with injectability, and exhibit cartilage mimicking shock-absorbing properties upon cyclic compression. Compared to conventional hydrogels, μRB-based hydrogels substantially accelerate MSC-based tissue regeneration towards cartilage and bone with much faster restoration of tissue load-bearing functions. In the third example, I will discuss harnessing tissue engineering strategies to customize design 3D models to model primary and metastatic bone cancers. These disease models bridge the technological gaps of existing 2D culture models and animal models, enabling mechanistic studies with decoupled niche cues, and have great potential for high-throughput drug screening with substantially reduced cost and time.

Fan Yang is an Associate Professor with tenure at Stanford University with joint appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, and Director of Stanford Stem Cells and Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory. Her research seeks to develop novel biomaterials with unique physical and chemical properties to modulate cell-niche interactions in 3D, to enhance stem cell differentiation and tissue regeneration, with a particular focus on developing therapies for treating musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases. Her lab also harnesses biomaterials to create 3D diseases models such as brain cancer and bone cancer. Prior to joining Stanford, Dr. Yang received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT under Prof. Robert Langer. In recognition of her innovation, she has been recognized by numerous awards including MIT TR35 Global list honorees, National Science Foundation CAREER award, Young Investigator Award from Society for Biomaterials, Biomaterials Science Lectureship Award, Young Investigator award from Alliance for Cancer and Gene Therapy, Ellen Weaver Award by the Association for Women in Science, Baxter Faculty Scholar Award, the McCormick Faculty Award, Stanford Asian American Faculty Award, and the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award etc.

Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Free