Identifying polymers that support the growth and differentiation of adipose derived pericytes for use in auricular reconstruction
West, Christopher Charles
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In the United Kingdom 1 in 6 - 8000 children are born missing one or both of their ears. The surgical technique most commonly used to reconstruct ears requires surgeons to remove ribs from the patient, and the cartilage from the ribs is used to carve a new ear. This procedure involves many risks including significant pain, punctured lung and chest deformity. Therefore the ability to ‘grow’ an ear would be a major advancement. Stem cells show huge promise in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Approved stem cell technology must be evaluated with regards to safety, purity, identity, potency and efficacy prior to biologic licensing and clinical use. Therefore, access to ethically sourced tissue for research is fundamental to the successful delivery of novel therapies. Adipose tissue provides an abundant and accessible source of stem cells for clinical translation. Within the first section of this thesis, the perceptions and attitudes of patients towards the donation and use of adipose tissue for research are sought. Based on this information, a tissue bank with all appropriate ethical approval to collect, process, store and distribute adipose tissue and adipose derived stem cells is established. The second part of this thesis demonstrates the specific identity, location and frequency of stem cells within adipose tissue; revealing them to reside in a perivascular niche. Using this data, protocols to rapidly purify stem cells from adipose tissue using Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting are developed. The frequency of cells, and both the patient and procedure based variables that can affect this yield are also examined. The final section of this thesis uses a high-throughput microarray platform to screen thousands of polymers to identify potential substrates that can support the attachment, stable proliferation and subsequent differentiation of stem cells purified from adipose tissue. From the initial screen, 5 distinct polymers have been identified, characterised and their effects on the stem cells examined and quantified. Combined together, these elements provide significant advances in our understanding, and the basis for on going research to deliver a tissue engineered ear for use in human ear reconstruction.