Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine
The epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract serves as a dynamic selective barrier. Intestinal epithelial barrier compromise in mucosal wounds is central in many pathologic states that encompass inflammatory bowel diseases, ischemia and surgical procedures. Thus, epithelial repair after injury is critical to clinical outcomes in pathologic states. The objective of this project is to engineer biofunctionalized hydrogels that direct intestinal stem cell expansion and differentiation in vitro as well as promote cell survival, engraftment and function in a murine model of intestinal mucosal wound closure. We hypothesize that these engineered synthetic materials will be superior to tumor-derived matrices (e.g., Matrigel) in supporting intestinal epithelial stem cell expansion and differentiation and promote stem cell engraftment and wound healing.