Engineering Personalized Neuronal Tissue Implants for Regenerative Medicine

Reuven Edri 1,2,5 Yona Goldshmit 3 Tal Dvir 1,2,4,5
1Tel Aviv University, Israel
2Tel Aviv University, Israel
3Tel Aviv University, Israel
4Tel Aviv University, Israel
5Tel Aviv University, Israel

Tissue engineering has evolved as a promising strategy for regenerating diseased or injured organs. In this approach, cells are engineered in the lab as 3-dimensional constructs using biomaterials, promoting their assembly into a functioning tissue.

Despite incremental improvements in the field of tissue engineering, no technology is currently available for producing completely personalized implants where both the cells and the scaffolding material are generated from the same patient, and thus do not provoke an immune response that may lead to implant rejection.

In our study, fatty tissues are extracted from patients, and while the cells are reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix is processed into a thermoresponsive personalized hydrogel. In this approach, we can develop different neuronal tissues that can tackle different neuronal diseases.

Our developed technology promotes efficient cell differentiation within the hydrogel, and allows to generate functional cortical, spinal cord, and dopaminergic tissue implants. After generating and characterizing the personalized implants we show the ability of different neuronal implants to mend spinal cord injuries and to support the growth of dopaminergic neurons, respectively. We show that these implants have spontaneous electrical activity, respond to stimuli and can secrete tissue specific factors.

These implants can function and contribute to regeneration of damaged tissues. This bioengineering approach may pave the way to personalized implants for regenerative medicine by minimizing the risk of immune rejection.

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