Roos van Hoffe

PhD student

Project description

During this PhD thesis I’ll investigate if we can add complex feedback systems in living systems, by creating dynamic reciprocity between synthetic matrices such as hydrogels, compartments like coacervates, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Currently, the communication between synthetic matrices and cells is relatively one-sided. There are synthetic matrices which can be remodeled by cells via cleavable peptide linkages, or the synthetic matrices provide a bioactive molecule to the cells to steer cell behavior. Dynamic systems, where the synthetic matrix is constantly communicating with the cells and vice versa, still have to be developed. Supramolecular hydrogels will be used as a synthetic matrix, which will be investigated in their use for induced pluripotent stem cell differentiation and proliferation. Supramolecular hydrogels can be easily tuned due to the non-covalent bonds between monomers. Additionally, cells can easily remodel the supramolecular hydrogel due to the dynamicity of the bonds. Compartments like coacervates will be incorporated in the UPy-based hydrogel, which can aid in stem cell proliferation and differentiation by incorporation of growth factors. In the end, we’ll have a better understanding of the properties of the stem cell niche that determine the stem cell fate.

Keywords: supramolecular chemistry, hydrogels, cell-material interaction
Techniques: cell culture, immunofluorescent staining, western blot, polymerase chain reaction