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Jean Liou, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, has received IFER funding from 2015-2017 for her project, “Application of Human iPSC-derived Mesenchymal Progenitor Cells to Develop Osteochondral Microtissues for Osteoarthritis Drug Testing.” She will be developing an animal-free, three-dimensional model which mimics the anatomic and physiological characteristics of the bone/cartilage interface—a primary site of tissue degeneration in osteoarthritis. Jean will be testing the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to generate osteochondral microtissue and will compare it to microtissue generated from bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), the type of cells currently used in the lab. Because MSCs are challenging to isolate and have a limited lifespan, Jean is interested in determining if iPSCs can overcome these difficulties and whether they are a more reliable cell type to use in the model. A mechanism for subjecting the model to injurious impact has been established in the lab, enabling it to be used to better understand osteoarthritic joint disease and to assess the effects of potential therapeutics.

 
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