Growth Factor Delivery in Tissue Engineering

Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) serves as the most widely utilized mediator of engineered cartilage growth. Conventionally, TGF-β is supplied to engineered tissues at highly supraphysiologic levels in an attempt to quickly grow tissue. However, a growing body of evidence brings to light a central paradox with this strategy. The conventional supplementation of highly supraphysiologic TGF-β levels induces signs of pathology (e.g. fibrosis, cellular hypertrophy). Alternatively, the supplementation of moderate, near-physiologic levels of TGF-β mitigate pathology, but exhibits severely limited transport into tissues.

In contrast, the natural TGF-β delivery process in cartilage occurs quite differently, where chondrocytes are surrounded by large stores of TGF-β that are sequestered in an inactive form, termed latent TGF-β. Chondrocytes activate latent stores when needed, leading to highly advantageous, regulated activity. This achieves essential biosynthesis while avoiding pathology. 


An exciting new project in the Growth Factor Mechanobiology Lab is the recreation of this native regulatory mechanism in tissue engineering systems. Chondrocytes are encapsulated in hydrogel scaffolds conjugated with large stores of latent TGF-β, akin to the native developmental process. Chondrocytes can activate these stores, giving rise to highly desirable, controlled activity in tissues, and subsequent improvements in the quality of tissue formation. We anticipate that this strategy will lead to a paradigm shift in tissue engineering technology and become a gold standard for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration.

Recent News

November 2019:  The Albro Lab receives pilot grant from NIH-funded MGH Center for Skeletal Research (CFSR)

November 2019:  The Albro Lab has 3 abstracts accepted to ORS 2020 (2 podium presentations, 1 poster presentation)

October 2019:  Professor Albro gives seminar at Northeastern University on growth factor reaction-diffusion modeling

October 2019:  Albro, Bergholt, and Serio Labs' review paper on Raman spectroscopy accepted in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology

October 2019:  Maggie Wu and Eric Dai present posters of their work at the annual UROP Symposium

September 2019:  Albro and Bergholt Labs have their abstract on Raman-based osteoarthritis diagnostics accepted to Photonics West


August 2019: Professor Albro presents at CMBBE 2019 on growth factor transport models in tissue engineering


July 2019:  The Albro Lab receives NSF Project Grant from Biomechanics and Mechanobiology