Drexel U biomedical engineer paving the way for better injury repair
Kara Spiller, an assistant professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems at Drexel University, has received a National Science Foundation's Early Career (CAREER) award to develop a new technology that will better control the modification of biomaterials, according to a university article.Spiller is studying ways to manipulate the body's immune system, heal injuries and fight against disease, according to the article. Spiller is a BMES member.
One type of immune system cell, called macrophages, are the body's first natural defense against infections and other types of damage. The success of implanted biomaterials — say, a scaffold to seal a hole in an organ after a tumor is removed – hinges on the behavior of these immune system cells, the article states.
Macrophages are versatile cells, constantly shifting their roles in response to cues from their environment. For example, “pro-inflammatory” macrophages clear bacterial infections and tumors and “pro-healing” macrophages promote chronic wound healing. “Pro-angiogenic” macrophages promote the vascularization of implanted biomaterials. Therefore, there is a big need in the biomedical research community for a strategy to precisely control the actions of infiltrating macrophages, particularly in the context of complex biomaterials, such as a bioprosthetic heart valve.
“We want to create the perfect environment for the biomaterial to work with your immune system cells and integrate with surrounding tissue. So, we need very precise control over the bioactive cues to your cells,” Spiller said in the article. “Right now, there is no universal way to do that.”
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