Research Highlights

Injectable Hydrogels for Long-Term Cell Therapy

2015-07-24 303

Professor Sei Kwang Hahn

Professor Sei Kwang Hahn and co-workers in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at POSTECH, and Professor Allan S. Hoffman at the University of Washington, have investigated various kinds of hydrogels developed for stem cell therapy as a regenerative medicine. Their work is published in the latest edition of Progress in Polymer Science (IF = 26.854), an international peer-reviewed scientific journal in the field of polymer science and engineering.
The paper entitled “In situ-forming injectable hydrogels for regenerative medicine” describes advanced polymeric hydrogel technologies to improve the stability of stem cells in the body and prolong their therapeutic effect.
Particularly, the paper provides detailed description of in vivo light-guiding hydrogels for cell-based sensing and therapy developed by Prof. Hahn’s research group and Prof. Andy Yun’s group at Harvard Medical School, which was published in Nature Photonics. In this research, optogenetic cells encapsulated in light-guiding hydrogels were implanted to produce insulin in the body for light-controlled therapy of diabetes for the first time in the world. In addition, real-time optical readout for the nanotoxicity of quantum dots was successfully demonstrated using optogenetic cells encapsulated in light-guiding hydrogels, attracting extensive academic attention.
Furthermore, the paper also describes supramolecular hydrogels for long-term stem cell therapy developed in collaboration with Prof. Kimoon Kim in the Department of Chemistry at POSTECH (a leader of the IBS Center). The genetically engineered stem cells encapsulated in injectable hydrogels produced anti-cancer therapeutic protein, resulting in effective inhibition of tumor growth with a significantly enhanced survival rate. This technology was transferred to Genexine, Inc. (CEO: Prof. Young Chul Sung in the Department of Life Science at POSTECH) for the commercialization of stem cell therapeutics using injectable hydrogels.
"This injectable hydrogel for regenerative medicine can greatly improve the efficacy of currently existing stem cell therapeutics for the treatment of intractable diseases," said Prof. Hahn.
The research was supported by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program funded by the Korean government (MEST).