AUG 30, 2016 08:00 AM PDT

Tissue engineering with human pluripotent stem cells

  • Junior Group Leader, Pluripotent Stem Cells and Activation of Endogenous Tissue Programs for Organ Regeneration, The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Spain
      Dr. Montserrat undergraduate training in Spain, Switzerland, and France, and postgraduate training in Spain and the US. Her research career started early in 2008 at the Center of Regenerative Medicine of Barcelona (CMRB), under the direction of Dr. Izpisua Belmonte. There, she led and participated different projects involving the generation and banking of iPS lines, and set up safe strategies using specific transcription factors determinant for lineage specification (GATA3) for somatic reprogramming. She also collaborated in other projects aimed to characterize the genomic integrity of human iPSCs as well as in the differentiation of iPSCs towards germ cells, neural cells, endothelial cells, retinal cells and blood cells. In the same manner, Dr. Montserrat participated in the generation of platforms for the study of disease progression and compound screening for therapy by means of human iPSCs. Moreover, her interest in organ regeneration provided new knowledge for the generation, for the first time, of kidney organoids, suitable for the study of hiPSCs differentiation towards renal lineages and compound screening for therapeutic purposes. Recently she has identified, for the first time, how the reactivation of endogenous regenerative programs that are dormant in adult murine heart can be reactivated and elicit heart regeneration. Dr. Montserrat research also benefits from the use of bioengineering strategies (organ decellularization and 3 D bioprinting) for human pluripotent stem cells differentiation, with specific focus in heart and kidney. The European Research Council (ERC-ERC Starting Grant), and Spanish national programs and networks support Dr. Montserrats research. Currently, Dr. Montserrat is group leader at the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), in Barcelona. Her research is focused on the study of molecular programs sustaining reprogramming and differentiation, with special focus on mesodermal-derived tissues suchas kidney and heart.

    One of the ultimate goals in Regenerative Medicine is the generation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) directly from somatic cells obtained from patients. Although major findings in the definition of in vitro differentiation protocols allowing for the derivation of several somatic cell lineages has been reported progresses on obtaining certain defined populations has faced major obstacles. One of the major problems associated with the in vitro differentiation arises in tissues presenting complex tridimensional (3D) structures, such as the case of cardiac, hepatic or renal lineages. Lately, it has been described that complex differentiation strategies might benefit from the establishment of 3D culture systems.  
    The possibility to develop 3D dimensional self-organized tissues, so called organoids, has opened new venues in the generation of protocols dictating human PSCs differentiation. As tissue-derived organoids are compromised by multiple cell types recapitulating part of organ structure and function the possibilities to understand human development are facilitating the development of massive platforms for drug screening and personalized medicine. In this talk, we will summarize part of our recent work in heart and kidney differentiation using hPSCs highlighting potential applications when combined with organ decellularization and 3D bioprinting.

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