LAZARUS – Exploring devitalized MSCs fibres as immunomodulatory devices for wound regeneration through (i) direct promotion of healing or (ii) enabling of allograft transplantation free of systemic immunosuppression

Grantee: Mariana Oliveira, PhD, CICECO, Universidade de Aveiro

Amount: DKK 3,129,000

Grant category: Research Grants in open competition

Year: 2023

Geography: Portugal

Mariana Oliveira’s project investigates the potential of using de-vitalized mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) as direct or indirect immunomodulatory or regenerative biomaterials for treatment of difficult-to-treat or chronic wounds.

The project aims at exploring MSCs as constituents of off-the-shelf easy-to-handle immunomodulatory biomaterials. The project focuses on using these materials to treat difficult-to-heal wounds, which may be chronic, or have proneness to become chronic if not properly treated.

Two treatment approaches will be explored using devitalized MSC aggregates through (i) their direct use as immunomodulatory and regenerative biomaterials capable of inducing healthy tissue deposition, or (ii) by their ability to promote localized immunosuppression. The latter approach targets skin allogeneic (i.e., non-self) engraftments in order to avoid or minimize systemic immunosuppressants intake, associated with proneness to infections, higher allograft rejection rate, and severe comorbidities.

The fact that no living cells are administered is expected to improve the predictability and safety of the devices when compared to other cell-based therapies.

The technology also eliminates risks related to possible cell migration to unwanted sites, or the occurrence of phenotypic changes after implantation (e.g., loss of regenerative features or differentiation into unwanted cell phenotypes, which may be particularly relevant for highly plastic cells like MSCs).

The hope is to develop efficient treatments for wound healing with minimal risk of side effects.