Lessons from Translation: Engineering a Pro-Regenerative Immune Environment with Biomaterials
The immune system is the first responder to trauma and foreign bodies such as biomaterials, yet this response and its capacity to orchestrate tissue repair has been largely ignored. We designed hydrogels to modulate the local tissue environment to support tissue repair of cartilage and soft tissue defects using traditional tissue engineering approaches. Translating these technologies to the clinic, we discovered cells from adaptive immune system responded to the biomaterials. We profiled in depth the immunological response to the wound environment in combination with biological scaffolds. The adaptive immune system, specifically Th2 T cells, is required for the scaffold stimulation of wound repair through the production of interleukin 4. We are now exploiting this discovery to design immunomodulatory materials for tissue repair. Ultimately, targeting the immune system represents a paradigm shift for regenerative medicine.