NCE Year 4

The potentials of using hPSCs in regenerative medicine are enormous. However, there is a critical need to overcome the hurdles of using hPSCs in regenerative medicine, such as the high cost for hPSC expansion/differentiation, the lack of identification of optimal microenvironment, and the potential contamination with animal products. The central goal of the proposed studies is to develop a synthetic matrix-based culture system for promoting self-renewal and lineage-specific differentiation. Furthermore, due to the limitation of current pharmacological therapeutic strategies, hPSC-derived neural progenitor cells (hNPCs), a multipotent cell population that is capable of near indefinite expansion and subsequent differentiation into the various cell types that comprise the central neuron system (CNS), could provide an unlimited source of cells for such cell-based therapies. We have developed a high-throughput array technology that allows simultaneous screening of the effects of a large number of materials/conditions on the behavior of cells. In this research project, we applied this technology to facilitate the precise and efficient development of optimal matrices comprising of synthetic polymers for hPSC growth and neuronal differentiation, with the goal of establishing an effective and clinically applicable procedure for the scaled-up production of hPSCs and hPSC-derived hNPCs.
In sum, our study combined the expertise of an interdisciplinary team including bioengineering, material sciences, and stem cell biology to develop a novel cellular microarray technology that allowed us to develop optimal synthetic polymers for large-scale expansion of hPSCs and hNPCs. All of these are achieved in a defined environment free of animal products and in a cost-effective manner, which will enable the application of such technology for translational therapy using hPSCs and hNPCs.