Prof. Roland R. Kaunas, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have been intensely investigated for their ability to promote bone healing. Unfortunately, results have been variable and disappointing due in part to inconsistencies in culture protocols and donor variation. To address these problems, we have optimized conditions for generation of osteo-enhanced hMSCs (OEhMSCs) with the capacity to survive and engraft into bone injuries in vivo. Another critical limitation of the natural healing process and also current cell-based bone repair strategies is low retention of osteogenic stem cells at the site of implantation. We found that OEhMSC-derived extracellular matrix (hMatrix) extended the retention time for OEhMSCs and thus substantially improved healing of critical-sized (non-healing) bone defects to the point of completion. Current applications under development in our lab that will be discussed include injectable hydrogel scaffolds that incorporate hMatrix, OEhMSCs and nanoparticles for accelerating bone regeneration and a 3D co-culture model of osteolytic bone tumors.
Roland Kaunas is an associate professor of biomedical engineering and the director of the Cell Mechanobiology Laboratory at Texas A&M University. He earned his BS in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, his MS in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, and his PhD in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego. He joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 2005. His research focuses on experimental and computational modeling of cell-matrix interactions in response to deformable matrices, the development of collagen-based scaffolds for adult stem cell delivery for osteoregenerative therapies, and the regulation of sprouting angiogenesis by mechanical and biochemical stimuli. He also serves on the councils for the Cell and Molecular Bioengineering and Advanced Biomanufacturing Special Interest Groups of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).