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Current drug discovery and tissue engineering strategies are hampered by low-throughput methods to assess efficacy in sub-optimal systems. Our cell and tissue engineering efforts aim to revolutionize cartilage tissue engineering for therapeutic efficacy. We use physiological conditions and cartilage tissue spheroids to mimic the in vivo environment more accurately. Chondrocytes are being genetically engineered to express a secreted bioluminescent protein under the control of extracellular matrix gene promoter sequences, essential for cartilage production. Using these engineered cells we aim to optimize conditions to produce more native like cartilage in vitro. This engineered tissue can then be used for drug discovery, to show which drugs prevent degradation or promote regeneration. As tissue engineered cartilage approaches native biochemical and mechanical properties we can then investigate transplant options for joint restoration.

This includes the following projects: Promoting Type II Collagen Synthesis in human chondrogenesis via Media Optimization and Drug Screening; Construction of a lubricin reporter chondrocyte based assay; Construction of a SOX9 reporter chondrocyte based assay; Effect of optimized media on tissue engineered type II collagen expression and stiffness; Construction of an aggrecan reporter chondrocyte based assay; Effect of synoviocyte derived extracellular matrix on chondrocyte motility


Thomas Kean, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine