Jennifer Weiser

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering

Polymeric biomaterials for intervertebral disc repair (ISMMS)

Partnered with Dr. James Iatridis, a Professor of Orthopedics and Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) on the following projects.

 

Controlled Release of microparticles from spinal bioadhesives for intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration

The goal of this project is to encapsulate a particular type of extracellular vesicle, called an exosome, into polymer microparticles. Exosomes are known to promote wound healing and make an attractive biologic drug compound. Dr. Iatridis has created a hydrogel that polymerizes in situ in the damaged IVD during surgery. However, the harsh polymerization reagents may damage the exosomes. The goal is to protect the exosomes and allow them to release over time from the hydrogel system. The exosomes are encapsulated into poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles that are incorporated into the in situ hydrogel sealant during spinal surgery. The work involves developing protocols for the encapsulation, characterizing the microparticles, study their impact on the mechanics of the hydrogel, and studying the controlled release of the exosomes.


Cell delivery for intervertebral disc repair

The goal of the project is to evaluate performance of fibrin-based hydrogels to enable cell delivery to heal the IVD space after herniation surgery. The project includes refining and analyzing ongoing work on a tissue engineering repair project for annulus fibrosus repair to repair injured intervertebral disc (IVD) and prevent degeneration. The fibrin-based hydrogels are designed to carry cells encapsulated in cross-linked alginate. As the alginate degrades, the cells release, and the void space left behind in the fibrin-based hydrogel allows room for proper extracellular matrices to form and support normal cell function. The work entails studying the biomechanical and biological analyses of cell-laden and cell-free hydrogels. A particular focus is on biomechanical performance and degradation of acellular hydrogels vs cellular hydrogels.

 

Titles

  • Conference Proceeding – AIChE 2020 abstract – Keti Vaso (presenter), et al. – “Sonication-free Fabrication and Characterization of Hydrogel-embedded Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) Microspheres for Extracellular Vesicle Delivery to the Intervertebral Disc”
  • Conference Proceeding – 9th Annual Musculoskeletal Repair and Regeneration Symposium – Christopher Panebianco (presenter), Sanjna Rao – “Seeding Oxidized Alginate Microbeads within Genipin-Crosslinked Fibrin Hydrogels for Intervertebral Disc Repair”
  • Abstract Submitted – ORS 2021 – Tyler Distefano, Keti Vaso, et al. – “Hydrogel-embedded PLGA Microspheres for the Delivery of hMSC-derived Exosomes for Intervertebral Disc Repair”
  • Abstract Submitted – ORS 2021 – Christopher Panebianco, Sanjna Rao, et al. – “Genipin-Crosslinked Fibrin Seeded with Oxidized Alginate Microbeads as a Novel Composite Biomaterial Strategy for Intervertebral Disc Cell Delivery”
  • Abstract Submitted – PSRS 2021 – Christopher Panebianco, Sanjna Rao, et al. – “Genipin-Crosslinked Fibrin Seeded with Oxidized Alginate Microbeads as a Novel Composite Biomaterial Strategy for Intervertebral Disc Cell Delivery”
  • Peer-reviewed review article in preparation – Tyler Distefano, Keti Vaso, et al. – “Extracellular Vesicles for Cell-Free Therapy of the Intervertebral Disc: A Systematic Review”
  • Peer-reviewed manuscript planned – Tyler Distefano, Keti Vaso, et al. – “Sonication-free Fabrication and Characterization of Hydrogel-embedded Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) Microspheres for Extracellular Vesicle Delivery to the Intervertebral Disc”