REM Center Awards 2022 Seed Grants to Five Interdisciplinary Teams

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The Regenerative Engineering and Medicine (REM) research center has awarded seed grants– totaling $400,000– to five teams of interdisciplinary researchers.

The goal of the REM seed grants is to support new, fundamental, or translational research in regenerative engineering and medicine.

“The REM seed grant program provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary researchers at partner institutions across Georgia to collaborate,” says Susan Thomas, Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) researcher, Woodruff Associate Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and co-director of the REM center representing Georgia Tech. “These innovative research projects all have a common end-goal – to positively impact human health here in Georgia as well as globally.”

REM, a collaboration between Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia, supports research with high innovation and potential for translational impact among diverse investigators in tissue regeneration, cell therapy, and immune modulation.

Below are the 2022 recipients:

Project Title: Harnessing Platelet Lysate to Enhance Marrow-mediated Cartilage Repair

Principal Investigators: Jay Patel (IBB researcher - Emory University) and John F. Peroni (University of Georgia)

This project will investigate biological and biophysical augmentation that platelet lysate provides to the microfracture (MFx) environment. Patel and Peroni believe this project has the potential to be translated clinically. This will not only lay the groundwork to augment MFx, but all marrow stimulation techniques.

 

Project Title: Mitochondrial Transfer from MSC-derived Extracellular Vesicles as a Novel Paradigm to Modulate Microglia Metabolism in Alzheimer's Disease

Principal Investigators: Jarrod Call (University of Georgia), Ross Marklein (University of Georgia), and Levi Wood (IBB researcher – Georgia Tech)

The researchers plan to explore neuroinflammation and the role it plays in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Successful completion of the proposed work will create a novel framework for modulating the brain’s immune system and treating Alzheimer’s disease through a better understanding of extracellular vesicles mechanism of action and microglia metabolism.

 

Project Title: Elucidating Predictive Potency of IFN-Ɣ Primed Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Graft vs Host Disease Using Spatial Single Cell Transcriptomics

Principle Investigators: Ahmet Coskun (IBB researcher – Georgia Tech/Emory University) and Edwin M. Horwitz (Emory University)

Coskun and Horwitz plan to quantitatively define interferon-ɣ primed MSCs (γMSCs) 3D potency using spatially resolved transcriptional profiles of allogeneic bone marrow (BM)-derived γMSCs that enable T-cell suppression in the 3D hydrogel environment. Combining their expertise, the long-term goal is to generate new predictive insights into the in vitro γMSC influence on T cell responses for quantitative assessment of the clinical outcome of γMSC-based prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)—before the γMSCs are administered to the HCT patient.

 

Project Title: Engineering a Cardiac-targeted Platform for Gene Therapy

Principle Investigators: Rebecca Levit (IBB researcher - Emory University), Andrés J. García (IBB executive director and researcher – Georgia Tech), and Christopher Doering (Emory University)

This team of interdisciplinary researchers plans to address the critical clinical problem of efficient delivery of gene therapeutics to the heart. By delivering a hydrogel containing AAV to the outside of the heart in the pericardial space will allow more time for optimal cardiac gene transduction while minimizing the dose of vector needed. Their strategy will bypass the rapid washout that occurs with intravascular delivery or intramyocardial injection and may offer some protection from immune mediated detection and clearance.

 

Project Title: Microfluidic Technologies to Collect Progenitor Cells Label-Free for Repair of the Ocular Surface

Principle Investigators: James D. Lauderdale (University of Georgia) and Todd A. Sulchek (IBB researcher – Georgia Tech)

The overall goal of this research is to develop a scalable, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant cell manufacturing pipeline to generate corneal epithelial progenitor cells capable of restoring the ocular surface in individuals with corneal damage. Lauderdale and Sulchek propose to test a new generation of microfluidic sorting devices tuned to isolate putative LSCs (limbal stem cells) from other cell types in limbal epithelial suspensions prepared directly from human corneoscleral tissues and from human iPSC cultures differentiated towards corneal progenitor cells.

Learn more about the REM Research Center, its innovation and impact, and future seed grant opportunities here.

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