Department: Surgery, University of Toronto
My lab focuses on two research areas:
1. Stem Cell Therapy for Pulmonary Hypoplasia: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). Despite extensive research and critical care advancements, the mortality and morbidity rates of infants with CDH have plateaued at an unacceptable level. The main factor responsible for poor outcome is the severity of lung immaturity. To accelerate lung maturation and growth, we aim to implement a novel strategy that employs a stem cell-derived therapy in utero. This project articulates over in vitro and in vivo studies: in the in vitro studies, we are testing the effects produced by the administration of amniotic fluid stem cells and their derivatives, such as exosomes, on fetal lung epithelium; in vivo studies involve the evaluation of the effects obtained by in utero administered stem cells on the lungs of different animal models of the disease (rat, rabbit, lamb fetuses).
2. Intestinal tissue engineering. This project is directed to the in vitro regeneration of the small intestine. There are several medical and surgical conditions for which intestinal bioengineering is needed. However, intestinal tissue regeneration is a big challenge due to the complexity and interplay of the secretory, absorptive, propulsive and mixing properties of the gastro-intestinal tract. The first phase of this project focuses on the isolation of a selected stem cell population, expansion and co-culture before seeding onto a newly generated intestinal scaffold. The second phase involves the transplantation of the seeded scaffolds into the abdominal cavity of a recipient animal, which is followed up to evaluate the short and long-term effects on intestinal morphology and function.