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Renovation of the FJD Division for Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Bioengineering

Translational research between the UC3M, IIS-FJD and CIEMAT


La Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Universitario Fundación Jiménez Díaz (IIS-FJD – Institute for Healthcare Research of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation University Hospital) and the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT – Center of Energy, Environment and Technology Research) have renovated the FJD Division for Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Bioengineering. The objective is to advance the top scientific lines to carry out translational research, that is, transfer the knowledge derived from basic research to the treatment of problems detected in clinical practice.

Renovación de la Cátedra FJD de Medicina Regenerativa y Bioingeniería de Tejidos

This special Division was conceived with the goal of strengthening biomedical research into pathologies that do not currently have adequate treatments, particularly in the area of genodermatosis and other skin diseases, in addition to developing innovative therapies that might be the object of further studies and clinical trials with patients.

“We are trying to carry out research that ranges from basic science to applied research and, if everything works out, to medical practice,” sums up the director of the Professorship, Marcela del Río Nechaevsky, of UC3M’s Department of Bioengineering and the Regenerative Medicine Unit CIEMAT-CIBER for Rare Diseases. “We are currently working with different types of stem cells, basically with the intention of regenerating healthy skin tissue,” she explains.

In general, among the activities that are developed under this division are the clinical, physiopathological, cellular and genetic characterization of genodermatoses (skin diseases of genetic origin); the use of adult stem cells (mesenchymal and epithelial) in skin regeneration; and the use of 3D matrices that carry adult stem cells for developing humanized research models and their application in pre-clinical studies.

Gene therapy

In this division, staffed by 25 researchers, work is being done in the area of gene therapy using genetically modified adult stem cells; there are two lines of work: for the gene’s use as bioreactors to factors with biological activity and for the correction of the pathological phenotype in genodermatosis.

One of the European projects that the scientists are taking part in, Genegraft, has a direct therapeutic application, because it involves a clinical trial for a rare disease, epidermolisis bullosa, known as butterfly skin disease in children. As part of this research, tissue engineering and gene therapy come together, that is, both genetic engineering and tissue engineering are uses.

Another innovative research project which researchers from this division are participating in is NanoSmell; in this project the scientists are working on the healing of wounds and the regeneration of cutaneous tissue through smells. This is a very innovative project that explores the use of artificial aromas designed in the laboratory as agents to induce the process of scarring. “These are strands of DNA (aptamers) connected to nanoparticles that can interact with the receptor in a reversible manner and “on demand”, thus specifically activating signaling routes that result in the activation of scarring at just the right time and in just the right place,” explains Marcela del Río.

Besides strengthening research, the Department is also trying to foment doctoral dissertations centered on this field and also spread knowledge about it at scientific congresses and among the general public, as well. “This is giving students from our program in Biomedical Engineering the opportunity to carry out end of degree projects and master’s theses in a very hospitable place,” comments the Department head.

Interview with Marcela del Río (video):