In this talk, Cosimo ligorio will go through his research journey, from design and investigation of peptide-graphene interactions to translation of this knowledge into a new composite material that could be interfaced with disc cells to influence and direct their fate. He will also present the latest data that suggest this system could be a potential platform for a novel cell-based, disc repair therapy.
He stated: My research is focused on the design and characterization of peptide-based nanocomposites for biomedical applications. In particular, I am working on beta-sheet forming, self-assembling peptide hydrogels having graphene oxide as nanofiller to constitute a new class of hybrid hydrogel nanocomposites. Our research group (Polymers and Peptide Group led by Prof Alberto Saiani) has started to study in the last years the interactions between octapeptides and graphene-based materials and we have found a strong adhesion of peptide nanofibers onto graphene oxide flakes, which could be exploited to build stiffer, but still injectable, peptide-based hydrogels. Peptides and graphene oxide are well accepted by our body (they are biocompatible) therefore we are using these peptide-graphene oxide nanocomposites as carrier to host and deliver mammalian cells for biomedical applications.
In my case, I am strongly interested in intervertebral disc degeneration, which initiates in the gelatinous core of the intervertebral disc, causing chronic inflammation and low back pain worldwide. At the moment, current therapies are based on painkillers and/or prostheses that replace the damaged tissues with metal or plastic implants that do not match enough the biomechanics of the disc. Furthermore, the source of disease (the cells) is not targeted and in the long-term people can be subjected to periodic revision, medical complications and, in the worst case, even implant failure.
With our hydrogel system, we want to offer a 3D platform for disc cells to grow in and build a new healthy tissue, so that our hydrogel can be injected to offer a regenerative therapy at the injury site. These hydrogels are injectable and they can mimic the mechanics of the native tissue due to their inherent design, as well as offering biological cues to the encapsulated cells to make them proliferate and deposit new tissue matrix.
I will recommend his talk for all interested candidates on Friday 6th December at 2:30 PM for SB04.12.05 in Hynes, Level 3, Room 302.