Women in Nanoscience

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Women in Nano Blog

Sharmila Mukhopadhyay and Shilpa Sant build carbon-based scaffolds to regenerate damaged muscle tissue

Posted on April 3, 2016 at 9:10 PM

Regenerating muscle tissue is a challenge. Transplanting muscles or using satellite cell injections (rare mononuclear skeletal cells in muscles) hasn’t been very successful. They integrate poorly and rarely survival.


(Prof. Mukhopadhyay walking around an arboretum in Chicago.)


Professors Sharmila M. Mukhopadhyay (Wright State U.) and Shilpa Sant (U. Pitt.) have devised a new strategy to overcome this problem. After a trauma, progenitor cells (myoblasts) generally differentiate into myotubes. These tubes bundle up to form myofibrils which, in turn, organise into fibres and form muscles.


(Prof. Sant training young minds (high school students and undergraduates) in her lab.)


In their recent article, Sharmila and Shilpa have shown how to create a carbon-based scaffold to help with the needed hierarchical structure building. Carbon-based materials are known for their good electrical conductance and their ability to get fabricated in different structural forms. They designed two different scaffold structures; one with interconnected microporous carbon foams and another with aligned carbon fibre mats. They grew a “carpet” of carbon nanotubes (CNT) on top of these scaffolds to investigate the integrated effects of multilevel hierarchy on myoblast differentiation.


(Prof. Sant on a dinner outing with her family and group members in Pittsburgh in January 2016.)


While both types promoted the growth and differentiation of progenitor cells, only the fibrous CNT-coated mats triggered the formation of aligned myotubes. The directional nature of CNTs seems to play an important role in promoting the fusion of myocytes into myotubes. The authors state that: “Our materials demonstrate greater regenerative potential as a result of the synergetic effect of multi-scale structural and physicochemical features. The nanostructured CNT carpets offer fine control over nano-roughness and wettability facilitating myoblast adhesion, growth, and differentiation into myocytes. Combined with the microscale-aligned fibrous architecture of the carbon fabric substrate, this stimulates formation of multinucleated myotubes”.


(Prof. Sant loves acting in science fiction plays. This is her picture from a play called “Signal”. She performed it as a part of “Rang Sangeet” in front of Maharashtra Mandal, Pittsburgh.)


The authors believe that these scaffolds could be used in biosensors and assist in regeneration of electrically excitable tissues like skeletal muscles, as well as neural and cardiac tissues.


(Prof. Mukhopadhyay with Einstein statue at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London.)


Sant is an assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Bioengineering. Her research interests involves developing tissue-engineered tumor models that can recreate the three-dimensional structure, cell-cell/cell-ECM (extracellular matrix) interaction, stromal environments, and signalling cues present in vivo. She currently serves as a member of American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Association of Cancer Research and Biomedical Engineering Society.


(Sant loves travelling and spending time with her family. This is her picture from her trip to Disney World.)


Mukhopadhyay is a professor of materials science and the Director of the Center for Nanoscale Multifunctional Materials at Wright State University. Her research work focuses on multifunctional nanomaterials and compact lightweight components for energy, environment, and biomedical applications. She is a former chair of the Electronics Division of the American Ceramic Society and is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society.


(XPS Lab: Taken outside one of Prof. Mukhopadhyay laboratories, with a hint of special lighting for fun (Source: Wright State University)).


- Written by Nakita Sengar, edited by Paulette Clancy


(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Prof. Sharmila Mukhopadhyay and Prof. Shilpa Sant.)



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1 Comment

Reply RichardPek
6:32 AM on September 22, 2017 
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