Engineering tissues to accelerate personalized medicine

The McGuigan lab uses biomaterials and engineering technologies to create artificial tissues which can be used to develop and discover new drugs, decide which drugs to give to which patients, and potentially to predict which people are likely to get sick from specific diseases.

Artificial tissues for personalized health

Artificial tissues are emerging as a powerful tool for advancing personalized therapies for a broad range of diseases more efficiently. Unlike traditional 2-dimensional (2D) plastic surfaces for cell growth, artificial tissues offer a distinct advantage. Natural tissues are complex communities of cells organized within an equally complex extracellular matrix. 2D cultures fail to mimic this dynamic tissue environment, posing a challenge as cellular behavior is profoundly influenced by local surroundings. Moreover, many intricate cellular processes pertinent to regeneration and disease occur exclusively within 3D settings. Artificial tissues can be designed to recreate the necessary environmental signals to model and study complex cellular behaviours in a dish. The important environmental signals that that orchestrate cell function across stable, regenerating, or diseased tissues are complex, involve multiple cell populations over multiple spatial scales, and are not well understood. Further, it is not known which signals drive the observed heterogeneity in cell function in different people. The use of artificial tissue platforms for developing new therapies and for personalizing which therapies are given to which people is therefore still in its infancy.

Learn more about us

The McGuigan lab pioneers the use of biomaterials and engineering technologies to create artificial tissues. These tissues serve multiple purposes: drug development and discovery, personalized treatment decisions, and even predicting susceptibility to specific diseases. Unlike traditional 2D plastic surfaces, artificial tissues offer a distinct advantage by mimicking the complex 3D environment found in natural tissues. By recreating essential environmental signals, these tissues allow us to study cellular behaviors more accurately. However, much remains to be understood about the intricate orchestration of cell function across stable, regenerating, or diseased tissues. The use of artificial tissue platforms holds immense promise but is still in its early stages.

Ruonan (Crystal) Cao

PhD Student

Aleksandra Fomina

PhD Student

Vera Pieters

PhD Student

Michelle Nurse

MASc Student

Join our team

Our mission in the McGuigan lab is to use tissue-engineering strategies to construct artificial tissues containing multiple cell type that accurately model the environment in a person and allow easy acquisition of high value data for drug discovery and fundamental research. Using these platforms, we are exploring the governing principles of tissue self-assembly, mechanisms of disease, and the development of novel therapies. Our team is multi-disciplinary and contains post-doctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students who are biologists, engineers, chemists, mathematicians and clinician scientists. We welcome applications from new team members with fresh ideas and novel perspective to join our team in advancing the field of tissue engineering!

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