研究方向：1. Biomimetic materials to tune immune response and direct stem cell lineage In response to developmental, physiological and pathological challenges, tissues undergo dynamic processes named morphogenesis, homeostasis and wound healing. These processes are dependent on a complex dialogue between multiple cell types and chemical and physical cues in the surrounding microenvironment. Key to this communication among cells in the regenerative process is the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM, which usually has multiple components and tissue-specific composition, provides: i) structural support for cells to attach, grow, migrate and respond to signals; ii) structural and mechanical properties associated with tissue’s functions; iii) a reservoir of bioactive cues that are sent to the residing cells; and iv) a degradable environment to allow for processes including neovascularization, tissue infiltration and remodeling. We pioneered a novel regenerative medicine strategy leveraging on artificial biomimetic ECM. Our materials mimic the extracellular matrix of hard and soft tissue in its composition, architecture and function in order to better regenerate damaged tissues. An engineering approach based on tuning the immune-response is still lacking in clinic as a regenerative therapy. We manipulated the chemistry and architecture of biomaterials to prevent a pro-inflammatory response thus ensuring the promotion of tissue regeneration. By bestowing on the surface of biomaterials active signals to efficiently reduce the inflammatory response it is possible to promote stem cell recruitment, proliferation and differentiation.
2. Biomimetic delivery systems to target inflammation The design and engineering of future generations of nanodelivery systems aims at the creation of multifunctional vectors endowed with improved circulation, enhanced targeting and responsiveness to the biological environment. In the attempt to move past purely bio-inert systems, we developed nanoparticles able to actively interact with the biology of the body. We have been fascinated by nature as a source of inspiration and created synthetic carriers equipped with cell-like properties by imparting them with a biological identity. Modulating the surface characteristics allowed us to control nanoparticle interactions with the proteins and cells they encounter within the body, many of which act as biological barriers to targeted drug delivery. Our approach for the creation of biomimetic delivery systems focuses on surface modifications that combine the intrinsic hallmarks of biological membranes with the delivery capabilities of synthetic carriers.