April 14, 2017

Orthopaedic Research Spotlight: ORS 2017 Annual Meeting

A guest blog post by RoosterBio Travel Award winner, Poonam Sharma.

The annual Orthopaedic Research Society meeting was an energetic and collaborative conference attended by clinicians, industry professionals, and researchers. While the attendees brought diverse perspectives to this meeting, the varied presentation styles, such as short poster teasers, mid-length research talks, and longer, broader spotlight oral presentations helped bring the audience together in scientific discourse. With over 300 oral presentations and over 2200 poster presentations, the variety in presentation styles made ORS 2017 an engaging and dynamic conference to attend.

Knockdown of vimentin may affect chondrogenic
extracellular matrix deposition in high density pellets.
shVim-vimentinknockdown, shLacZ-control.
My research in Dr. Adam H. Hsieh’s Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Lab at the University of Maryland centers on the role of vimentin intermediate filaments in governing mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) properties and behavior, including cellular deformability, adhesion, and differentiation, specifically chondrogenesis. After knocking down the expression of vimentin intermediate filaments in human MSCs using RNA interference, we observe how a decrease in vimentin affects differentiation (abstract here). Preliminarily, we’ve found that a decrease in vimentin did not affect adipogenesis or osteogenesis, but may lead to a potential decrease in chondrogenic extracellular matrix deposition, but this needs further exploration. MSCs from RoosterBio have been singular in the progression of my graduate research. The fast growth and consistency of the high quality MSCs have taken the bottleneck of MSC growth out of the equation for my research. Further, using these MSCs and media has dramatically decreased the labor, time, and resources needed to obtain the cell numbers needed for conducting my experiments.

During this conference, I was able to have in-depth conversations about my research as well as exchange ideas and technical tips that will help strengthen my work. Attending ORS allowed me to both present my research through a poster presentation and network with both industry professionals and academic researchers. As I will soon be taking the next step in my career, these interactions helped me to start to home in on the types of opportunities that I would like to pursue and how to prepare myself to excel. Further, attending professional development seminars, such as one regarding the art of negotiation, helped me identify techniques for further developing soft skills.   
One of the most engaging sessions in this conference was a really fun debate about the related futures of regenerative medicine and orthopaedic implants – Will Regenerative Medicine Make Orthopaedic Implants Obsolete in Our Time? It was captivating to hear the discussion about two research and clinical areas that continue to intersect and diverge. Also, the keynote by Dr. Jennifer Doudna summarizing the CRISPR technology that she helped develop was a great overview and the brief discussion about the ethics of gene therapy was thought-provoking.

The research presentations and broader spotlight sessions gave me a great overview of the latest research in my interest areas of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, cell therapies, and biomaterials. Many of the oral presentations I attended focused on bettering the design of tissue engineered scaffolds. Here are just a few of the research presentations that inspired me:

Development of a Continuous Dual-Gradient Peptide Scaffold for Directed Osteochondral Spatial Differentiation
·         Dr. Jennifer L. Puetzer, Stevens Lab, Imperial College London 
·         Dr. Puetzer presented a sequentially electrospun polycaprolactone scaffold with opposing gradients of two peptides in a single scaffold for osteochondral repair.  MSCs seeded on the glycosaminoglycan-binding peptide side of the scaffold showed chondrogenic differentiation while those seeded on the mineral nucleating peptide side showed osteogenic differentiation without any exogenous growth factors!
·         Learn more about their dual gradient peptide research here.

A Bi-layered Scaffold Derived from Decellularized Growth Plate and Articular Cartilage Extracellular Matrix for Osteochondral Defect Repair
·         Dr. Grainne Cunniffe, Kelly Lab, Trinity College Dublin
·         Dr. Cunniffe presented a bi-layered scaffold for osteochondral repair using decellularized and homogenized growth plate and articular cartilage extracellular matrices. In vitro, MSCs seeded onto the scaffold differentiated in response to the different extracellular matrix cues, with more glycosaminoglycans found on the cartilage-derived matrix and calcification found on the growth plate-derived matrix. In an in vivo goat osteochondral defect model, hyaline cartilage and endochondral ossification were observed by 12 months.
·         Learn more about their extracellular matrix-derived scaffolds here.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells Expressing the Cell Adhesion Molecule CD146 Present Increased Homing Towards Degenerative Intervertebral Discs - an Organ Culture Study
·         Sebastian Wangler, Grad Lab, AO Research Institute
·         Sebastian Wangler presented a series of studies to characterize MSC homing to degenerative intervertebral discs. MSCs migrating toward both a degenerative disc chemoattractant and conditioned media from an induced degenerative disc model expressed higher levels of the marker CD146 compared to controls. Further, in an induced degenerative disc organ study, CD146+ MSCs showed increased migration into the discs compared to CD146- MSCs.
·         Learn more about MSC homing to chemoattractant cues from degenerative discs here.

This year’s ORS annual meeting was really engaging and was excellent for fostering discussion about the latest research in orthopaedics, professional development, and networking. I enjoyed presenting my research at ORS and am thankful to RoosterBio for their high-quality MSCs, media systems, and service as well as their support toward my attendance at ORS 2017! 

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