Seeram Ramakrishna, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Nanofibers & Nanotechnology, National University of Singapore
Biomaterials: Future Perspectives
From the perspective of thousands of years of history, the role of biomaterials in healthcare and wellbeing of humans is at best accidental. However, since 1970s with the introduction of national regulatory frameworks for medical devices, the biomaterials field evolved and reinforced with strong science and engineering understandings. The biomaterials field also flourished on the backdrop of growing need for better medical devices and medical treatments, and sustained investments in research and development. It is estimated that the world market size for medical devices is ~300 billion dollars and for biomaterials it is ~30 billion dollars. Healthcare is now one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide. Legions of scientists, engineers, and clinicians worldwide are attempting to design and develop newer medical treatments involving tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, nanotech enabled drug delivery, and stem cells. They are also engineering ex-vivo tissues and disease models to evaluate therapeutic drugs, biomolecules, and medical treatments. Engineered nanoparticles and nanofiber scaffolds have emerged as important class of biomaterials as many see them as necessary in creating suitable biomimetic micro-environment for engineering and regeneration of various tissues, expansion & differentiation of stem cells, site specific controlled delivery of biomolecules & drugs, and faster & accurate diagnostics. This lecture will capture the progress made thus far in pre-clinical and clinical studies. Further this lecture will discuss the way forward for translation of bench side research into the bed side practice. This lecture also seeks to identify newer opportunities for biomaterials beyond the medical devices.
Andrey Panteleyev, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, NBICS Centre-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis
Regulation of normal skin functions as well as etiology of many skin diseases are both tightly linked to the environmental impact. Nevertheless, molecular aspects of skin-environment communication and mechanisms coordinating skin response to a plurality of environmental stressors remain poorly understood.
Our studies along with the work of other groups have identified the family of PAS dimeric transcription factors as an essential sensory and regulatory component of communication between skin and the environment. This protein family comprises a number of hypoxia-induced factors (HIF-alpha proteins), aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT), and several proteins implicated in control of rhythmic processes (Clock, Period, and Bmal proteins). Together, various PAS proteins (and first of all ARNT – as the central dimerization partner in the family) control such pivotal aspects of cell physiology as drug/xenobiotic metabolism, hypoxic and UV light response, ROS activity, pathogen defense, overall energy balance and breathing pathways.
In his presentation Dr. Panteleyev will focus on the role of ARNT activity and local hypoxia in control of keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. His recent work revealed that ARNT negatively regulates expression of late differentiation genes through modulation of amphiregulin expression and downstream alterations in activity of EGFR pathway. All these effects are highly dependent on epigenetic mechanisms such as histone deacetylation. Characterisation of hypoxia as a key microenvironmental factor in the skin and the role of HIF pathway in control of dermal vasculature and epidermal functions is another major focus of Dr. Panteleyev’s presentation.
In general, the studies of Dr. Panteleyev’s laboratory provide an insight into the PAS-dependent maintenance of skin homeostasis and point to the potential role of these proteins in pathogenesis of environmentally-modulated skin diseases such as barrier defects, desquamation abnormalities, psoriasis, etc.