ScaNCells team at TERMIS-Asia Pacific Conference 2022

ScaNCellS team at TERMIS AP 2022

From left to right, a part of the ScaNCellS team: Jerome Tan (PhD student), Dr Daniel N. Roxby, Dr Tan Dai Nguyen, Prof Sing Yan Chew, Christy Kwokdinata (PhD student) and Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira at the Jeju TERMIS-AP Conference 2022. Dr Daniel N. Roxby and Dr Tan Dai Nguyen are working in the ScaNCells team and were both awarded best poster awards.

From 5 to 8 October 2022, a large part of the CNRS@CREATE ScaNCells team travelled to the TERMIS-AP 2022 Conference, in Jeju Island, South-Korea, to present the work produced in the ScaNCellS project.

TERMIS-AP, the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society Asia-Pacific Chapter Conference 2022, is one of the most important Congress in tissue engineering in the Asia-Pacific region.

ScaNCellS stands for Engineering Scaffold-Mediated Neural Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury Treatment. You can read more about the ScaNCellS project here.

Two PIs of the ScaNCells staff were present with namely Prof Sing Yan Chew (Lead PI NTU) and Prof Jongyoon Han (MIT/BE/Smart Camp). Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira (CNRS@CREATE) represented the CNRS – Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 partner in the ScaNCellS project.

Prof Sing Yan Chew (Lead PI from Singapore of ScaNCellS (NTU)) chaired two sessions and presented part of the ScaNCellS work in her talk devoted to Biofunctional hydrogels to direct cell fate & tissue regeneration, while Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira presented her poster on Functionalization, preparation and use of stem cell-laden bio-based photo-clickable hydrogels for spinal cord injury treatment. It details the promising work done under the guidance of Prof Laurent David (Lead PI from France of ScaNCells – CNRS and Claude Bernard University Lyon 1), Associate Prof Sing Yan Chew and Adjunct Assistant Prof Shi Yan Ng.

Prof Sing Yan Chew during her talk at TERMIS-AP 2022

Prof Sing Yan Chew during her talk at TERMIS-AP 2022.

Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira presenting her poster.

Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira presenting her poster.

Abstract of Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira’s communication:

Spinal cord injury (SCI) can cause severe irreversible motor, sensory, and functional disorders. The design of biomaterials able to encapsulate neural stem cells (Spinal Cord Progenitor Cells-SCPCs) and mimic native neural tissue behaviour have been regarded as a promising strategy to restore neurological function. In this study, we propose the functionalization of chitosan and gelatin with photo-clickable groups, particularly methacryl and thiol groups, allowing the preparation of 3D hydrogels loaded with SCPCs. The functionalized biopolymers were successfully obtained, and then characterized to confirm their macromolecular structure and determine their degree of substitution (DS): methacrylate chitosan (ChMA, DS of ~ 26 %), methacrylate gelatin (GelMA, DS of ~ 84 %) and thiolate gelatin (GelSH, DS of ~ 75 %). The concentration of the ChMA:GelMA and ChMA:GelSH mixtures, and conditions of gelation were optimized. In vitro tests showed the possibility of SCPCs encapsulation with high cell viability (~ 80 %). Moreover, 3D hydrogel structures were prepared by digital light processing enabling specific neural guide designs for the tissue regeneration process. In vivo implantation of these materials is ongoing, and the preliminary results are very promising. The ability to process hydrogels in mild conditions and form a 3D hydrogel structure loaded with cells via photo-crosslinking, make these materials potentially high impact.  Summarizing, these preliminary results demonstrate the potential of these materials for neural tissue regeneration coupled with cell therapy, therefore potentially offering a possible spinal cord injury treatment.

Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira also presented a talk concerning a previous work developed at Laboratoire Ingénierie des Materiaux Polymères, UMR 5223 CNRS & Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 with Prof Laurent David entitled: Functional chitosan hydrogels for intra-urethral stents: processing, in vitro and in vivo evaluations.

Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira presenting her talk.

Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira presenting her talk.

Abstract of Dr Paula Nunes de Oliveira’s Oral presentation:

Patients with prostate cancer may undergo prostatectomy, hormonal therapy and/or radiotherapy. Radiotherapy can result in side effects, such as urethral stenosis. The overall incidence of urethral stenosis after prostate cancer is high and requires the insertion and later removal of a urinary catheter. This study proposes a resorbable and imageable intra-urethral stent based on chitosan hydrogel to treat the urethral stenosis, with the advantage of not being necessary to remove the device in the end of the treatment. A hydrogel formulation associated with two contrast agents were tested: (1) superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles coated with chitosan (SPION-Ch) and (2) Chitosan grafted with DOTAGA complexed with gadolinium. The stents were processed by interrupted coagulation of high concentration of chitosan/contrast agent solutions. In both cases, the amount of contrast agents was optimized for MRI. In vitro tests showed the resorption of the material in artificial urine. Moreover, the mechanical properties of stent prototypes are comparable to conventional urinary catheters. Both formulations of the loaded hydrogel showed cytocompatibility. In vivo (rat and pig models), these loaded hydrogels allowed to localize the device in the body and to follow resorption in vivo using MRI. Further work is ongoing to analyse tissue reaction after implantation in order to validate safety and therapeutic approach.


Congratulations to all the ScaNCellS team for their brilliant talks and posters!