About the Project
Macrophages, essential component of the innate immunity, have been shown to play a central role as master regulators of many physiological processes such as clearance of pathogens, tissue remodelling after injury and host responses to implanted materials. Macrophages can acquire distinct functional phenotypes in different physiological scenarios. This is best exemplified by the concept of pro- or anti-inflammatory macrophages (also known as M1 and M2, respectively) that are shown to play a role in clearance of pathogens after infection and wound healing respectively. The use of phenotype-controlled macrophages has shown great promise in different clinical scenarios such as fibrosis and chronic/non-healing wounds where macrophages with a pro-healing phenotype have shown to accelerate tissue repair and homeostasis.
However, the use of this approach is limited by the need for large numbers of cells, heterogeneity of the macrophage population, and time to generate specific macrophage subsets from their precursors (e.g. monocytes or iPSCs).
To circumvent these limitations in this project we plan to develop intelligent materials to engineer macrophage-like synthetic cells. We will use recently developed interfacial self-assembling platforms and techniques such as microfluidics and additive manufacturing to design cell-like capsules capable of sensing environmental cues and releasing different cytokines/mediators to promote tissue regeneration. The functionality of synthetic macrophages will be tested in vitro using different cell/tissue culture platforms.
The project provides excellent training opportunities in cellular immunology and materials sciences and will use a host of techniques and tools including immune characterisation, co-culture methods, ELISA, PCR, flow cytometry, microscopy as well as a range of additive manufacturing, materials fabrication and characterisation.
Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, a 2:1 degree in Biology, Chemistry, Immunology or a related scientific discipline. Previous laboratory based experience in a relevant area will be advantageous.
Vishwakarma A, Bhise NS, Evangelista MB, Rouwkema J, Dokmeci MR, Ghaemmaghami AM, Vrana NE, Khademhosseini A. Engineering Immunomodulatory Biomaterials To Tune the Inflammatory Response. Trends Biotechnol. 2016 Jun;34(6):470-482
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