Human cells and tissues

Cell therapy, regenerative medicine, tissue engineering

One of the leading advances in biomedicine today is the development of cell-based therapies for the treatment of human diseases. For example, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells are being generated ex vivo from a patient’s own blood and then reinfused into the patient to treat cancer. The programmed CAR-T cells are able to seek out cancer cells and initiate a potent immune response against the tumors. Additionally, a patient’s own stem cells can also be isolated, modified, and reinfused into the patient to treat a variety of diseases affecting various organs, such as the heart, brain, and musculoskeletal system. The types of genetic modifications that can be performed on these biomedically relevant cells types have recently been revolutionized through the development of the CRISPR/Cas genome editing tools. In addition to single cell-based platforms, a number of complex tissues characterized by multiple cell types, scaffold materials, and architectures are being developed in order to tackle critical challenges in regenerative medicine and organ transplantation.

At Rice, several groups are actively investigating innovative ways to improve the efficiency of engineering human cells and tissues, including research efforts focused on:

  • understanding of biochemical, molecular, cellular, and biomechanical characteristics of normal and diseased cells and tissues (Farach-CarsonGrande-AllenMikos, DiehlMiller, Warmflash),
  • design and fabrication of novel scaffolds (Mikos, Miller, Veiseh),
  • design and optimize tools to manipulate cells and tissues genetically (Bao, Suh), and
  • development of optimal culturing conditions for tissue engineered constructs (Grande-AllenMikos).