Lonnie D Shea Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, McCormick Engineering and Applied Science, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Lonnie D Shea

Research Interest Keywords

Regenerative medicine; Gene and drug delivery; Systems biology; Biomaterials; Ovarian follicles; Islet transplantation; Nerve regeneration; Cancer models

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Research Statement: The focus is on an approach termed "Systems Tissue Engineering", which indicates the need to develop systems capable of presenting combinations of factors that drive tissue growth, as well as the need to incorporate systems biology approaches that can identify the appropriate combination of factors. A central component of many approaches involves biomaterials, which provide a tool by which to create an environment and/or deliver factors that can direct cellular processes toward tissue formation. Biomaterial scaffolds are developed that present signals in the form of adhesive proteins, mechanical properties, growth factors, hormones, and cytokines. This potential of presenting multiple cues to target multiple aspects of tissue formation is applied to islet transplantation for diabetes therapy, ovarian follicle maturation to preserve fertility for women and girls facing a cancer diagnosis, and spinal cord regeneration to treat paralysis. In these approaches, the environment must be created that provides factors to stimulate growth and also blocks factors that inhibit regeneration. More recently these scaffolds have been applied to the early detection of cancer by creating an environment that can capture metastatic cancer cells. Furthermore, nanoparticles have recently been applied for modulating the immune response, in order to the induction of tolerance in autoimmune disease. The ability to present multiple factors raises the challenge of identifying the combination that will maximally promote tissue formation. Toward this goal, we have developed a cellular array for the large scale profiling of transcription factor activity throughout tissue formation, which we propose can identify the factors necessary to drive cells towards the desired phenotype. This array represents a novel systems biology tool for molecularly dissecting tissue formation. This approach of relating tissue development to molecular design of the scaffold may ultimately lead to the formation of engineered tissues that could provide alternatives to whole organ or tissue transplantation.


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