Brown University School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Seminar: “Enabling Technologies for Drug and Cell Delivery”

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Thursday, November 14, 2013 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Rebecca L. Carrier, Ph.D., Department of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University Our lab develops and analyzes biomaterials to enable effective oral drug delivery, and cell delivery to the retina to treat retinal regeneration. Accurate in vitro models of intestinal tissue would be highly useful for widely applied pharmaceutical testing and could benefit short bowel syndrome (SBS) patients. Retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, currently have no cure; retinal regeneration, aided by retinal progenitor cells in an appropriate biomaterial vehicle, could help restore vision. We are developing novel biomimetic scaffolds for engineering intestine and retina, tissues in which distinct structural features of matrix (e.g., crypts and villi; sheaths surrounding cones and rods) strongly motivate study of materials with biomimetic structure. While extensive literature has demonstrated that structure and topography impact cell function, these factors are still not routinely considered in development of cell culture and regenerative medicine materials, or are addressed with simple, non-biomimetic features. We are analyzing the impact of both approximate and precise biomimetic structure on cell differentiation. Multiple approaches are being pursued: 1. lithographic techniques to recreate micro-scale crypt-villus (micro-well – micro-pillar) unit arrays in a biopolymer membrane (intestine), 2. a novel method employing chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on native tissue to recreate multiscale, irregular, complex features in a polymeric membrane (intestine), and 3. decellularized native tissue (retina). These approaches will shed light on importance of different scales and degrees of complexity of structure, as well as relative significance of structure and chemistry. Parallel efforts in our lab related to enabling effective oral drug delivery are focused on mechanistic studies and modeling of the impact of ingested lipids on compound transport in the intestine, and studying and modulating intestinal mucus barrier properties to facilitate oral drug delivery or hinder microbe invasion.