Chemical Engineering (ChE) graduate student Ryan Carpenter has published an original paper in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) prominent scientific journal Biomaterials Science & Engineering as one of its cover articles. In general, the research described by Carpenter in his ACS paper anticipates using a pioneering technique for developing new individualized medical diagnostics and novel therapeutic methods for cancer treatment. See Carpenter’s LinkedIn profile.
The title of Carpenter’s ACS paper is “Scaffold-assisted Ectopic Transplantation of Internal Organs and Patient-derived Tumors,” and his co-authors are Hye Jeong Oh, In-Hye Ham, Daeyoung Kim, Hoon Hur, and Carpenter’s ChE advisor Professor Jungwoo Lee.
As the ACS paper says about the research described, “We envision that leveraging the immunomodulatory properties of biomaterial interfaces can be an attractive strategy to improve the functional engraftment of xenotransplants [meaning tissue grafts or organ transplants from a donor of a different species from the recipient] and accelerate individualized diagnostics and the development of novel therapeutic strategies.”
According to Carpenter and his colleagues, xenotransplantation of human tissues into immunodeficient mice has emerged as an invaluable preclinical model to study human biology and disease progression and predict clinical response. The most common anatomical site for tissue transplantation is the subcutaneous pocket due to simple surgical procedures and accessibility for gross monitoring and advanced imaging modalities.
“However,” as Carpenter and his co-authors state, “subcutaneously implanted tissues initially experience a sharp change in oxygen and nutrient supply and increased mechanical deformation. During this acute phase of tissue integration to the host vasculature, substantial cell death and tissue fibrosis occur, limiting engraftment efficiency.”
Carpenter and associates go on to say that “Previously, we demonstrated that the implantation of inverted colloidal crystal hydrogel scaffolds triggers proangiogenic and immunomodulatory functions without characteristic foreign body encapsulation. In this study, we examine the use of this unique host response to improve the ectopic transplantation of tissues to the subcutaneous site.”
The ACS paper notes that scaffold-assisted tissues preserved morphological features and blood vessel density compared to native tissues, whereas scaffold-free tissues collapsed and were less vascularized. Carpenter and his team foresee that subcutaneous engraftment of internal tissues represents great opportunity for metastasis research in mice. For example, transplantation of human liver tissue containing an early stage metastatic tumor to an anatomically accessible site in mice could enable longitudinal investigation of human disseminated tumor cells in their preserved niche.
Through a collaboration with researchers at the Ajou University School of Medicine in South Korea, the scaffold-assisted technique was applied to the transplantation of patient-derived gastric cancer into mice. The ACS paper concludes that “Co-transplantation of patient-derived gastric cancer with a scaffold resulted in a comparable level of engraftment to conventional methods; however, detailed immune-histological characterization revealed significantly better retention of proliferative cells and human immune cells by the end of the study.”
Carpenter is a ChE doctoral candidate in the Lee Research Group with technical skills in animal models for advanced-stage cancer research utilizing biomaterial scaffolds. Carpenter has proven experience in tissue engineering, tumor microenvironments, immune modulation, and histological characterization.
Carpenter’s outstanding potential as a cancer scholar has been formally recognized with a “Scholar-in-Training Award" presented at the 2019 American Association of Cancer Research meeting. He is also a recipient of the Soft Materials for Life Sciences National Research Traineeship and a Tillwick Graduate Fellowship. After his UMass graduation he will be seeking career opportunities in translational development of products to benefit patient health. He earned his B.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering and B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University at Buffalo. (January 2020)