Last week on Friday, Lab Land attended the annual Regenerative Engineering & Medicine center get-together to hear about progress in this exciting area.
During his talk, Tony Kim of Georgia Tech mentioned a topic that Rose Eveleth recently explored in The Atlantic: why arenâ€™t doctors using amazing â€œnanorobotsâ€ yet? Or as Kim put it, citing a recent review, â€œSo many papers and so few drugs.â€
[A summary: scaling up is difficult, testing pharmacokinetics, toxicity and efficacy is difficult, and so is satisfying the FDA.]
TheÂ talks Friday emerged from REM seed grants; manyÂ paired an Emory medical researcher with a Georgia Tech biomedical engineer. All of these projects take on challenges in delivering regenerative therapies: getting cells or engineered particles to the right place in the body.
For example, cardiologist W. Robert Taylor discussed the hurdles his team had encountered in scaling up his cells-in-capsules therapies for cardiovascular diseases to pigs, in collaboration with Luke Brewster. The pre-pig phase of this research is discussed in more detail here and here.
Franklin West from University of Georgia described his work, in collaboration with Simon Platt at UGA and radiologist Hui Mao at Emory, on induced stem cell treatment for stroke, also in pigs. West showed evidence that the experimental treatment was improving measures of white matter integrity and blood flow in pigsâ€™ brains, but measures of functional recovery are still to come.
Kim reported on his collaboration with Malu Tansey at Emory, which aims to increase the ability of an anti-inflammatory drug to cross the blood brain barrier, in an effort to treat neurodegenerative diseases. How? Using synthetic â€œgood cholesterolâ€ or HDL particles.
Andres Garcia of Georgia Tech discussed his work with Asma Nusrat, who recently left Emory for the University of Michigan, on hydrogels for intestinal epithelial stem cell delivery. This week, a separate paper in Science Translational Medicine showed how similar hydrogels could deliver the drug dexamethasone â€œdirectly to the inflamed colon surfaceâ€ in a mouse model of ulcerative colitis.
Lab Land is planning a separate post on Nusratâ€™s work at Emory on the intestinal repair-promoting protein annexin A1, which has connections to this weekâ€™s post on â€œHow beneficial bacteria protect intestinal cellsâ€ from Rheinallt Jones and Andrew Neish.