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06/06/2018

New Biology Grant Probes Cell Behavior

Quick Facts

 The purpose of the research is to study how different cell types, including fibroblasts, stem cells and cancer cells, interact with the surface of different hydrogels as they self assemble into three-dimensional structures called toroids.
 Their proposal said that one of the main challenges of tissue engineering is the creation of a suitable environment in which cells can be grown, and then the monitoring of modifications the cells make similar to how they would operate in a living organism.

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Matt Stern
ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University Assistant Professor of Biology Matt Stern will be investigating how stem cells and cancer cells behave in different three-dimensional microenvironments along with two other South Carolina professors as part of a $50,000 federal-state-university grant partnership.

Their proposal said that one of the main challenges of tissue engineering is the creation of a suitable environment in which cells can be grown, and then the monitoring of modifications the cells make similar to how they would operate in a living organism.

The purpose of the research is to study how different cell types, including fibroblasts, stem cells and cancer cells, interact with the surface of different hydrogels as they self assemble into three-dimensional structures called toroids.

Studying how the cells interact will allow the scientists to generate computer models that can be used to predict how cells are likely to interact with different biomaterials. This can then be used to inform the design and development of new bioactive materials for tissue engineering and to better understand differences in how cancer cells interact with their microenvironment.

Ultimately, finding a way to develop a suitable model of cancer progression would allow for rapid screening of treatment regimens and speed the ability to identify therapies for various cancer types, said Stern.

This latest grant brings together Stern’s expertise in stem cells with two other successful investigators, Jay Potts of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine who has an expertise in tissue engineering and Mark Uline of the University of South Carolina who specializes in molecular modeling. The trio will use two USC sites, the Microarray Core Facility and Modeling and Computational Core, to investigate these vital phenomena.

“My lab will be lending our expertise in studying adipose derived stem cells and melanoma cells to their cutting-edge work in three-dimensional culture systems and computer modeling of cellular behavior,” Stern said. “In addition to the scientific value of the research, it will be a great learning opportunity for the two Winthrop students who will be part of the project.”

The grant is part of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Institutional Development Awards (IDeA), which are federal-state-university partnerships designed to increase extramural research support for those states who have historically received low levels of federal research and development funds.

For more information, contact Stern at sternm@winthrop.edu.

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