Organ chips and bioprinting
Our group is interested in animal-free innovations for disease modeling. We pioneered the development of organ chips for viral diseases. Currently, we are interested in developing organ chip models for viral hemorrhagic syndromes diseases (e.g., Ebola virus). Viral diseases such as those that cause viral hemorrhagic syndromes or severe acute respiratory syndromes are recognised by World Health Organisation (WHO) as urgent threats to the public. This creates a real urgency for the innovative engineered models for diagnostic, preventive and drug development research. We use the organ chip approach for assessing new candidate drugs for these viral hemorrhagic syndromes together with our industrial partners.
Our lab is also equipped with several state-of-the-art bioprinters (BioX and LumenX+). Bioprinters enable us to engineer complex tissues and organs. Bioprinted tissues are expected to revolutionise the biomedical field by eliminating the need for laboratory animals and enabling high-tech innovations such as next generation organ chips.
Single cell analysis of mechanics and metabolism
Our ambition at the Mashaghi lab is to develop and use innovative technologies that allow mechanical analysis of biological systems down to single cell and single organelle resolution, and to find the interdependencies between mechanical parameters and chemical biomarkers.
The lab is equipped with advanced single cell technologies including state-of-the art optical tweezers, acoustic force spectroscopy and CellHesion, enabling mechanical analysis of single cells and cellular interactions. Furthermore, we use micro-engineered chips and micropillar array systems to learn about mechanics of cells and tissues. Mechanically heterogenous cells can also be sampled using a special microsampler available in the lab and the cellular content can then be subjected to high resolution chemical analysis using live single cell mass spectrometric methods.
This innovative single cell platform will help us to understand the mechanisms of disease and will open up our way towards research into mechano-pharmacology and mechanotoxicity.
We are interested in engineering immune cells for therapeutic purposes, as well as in studying single immune cells in biologically inspired engineered environments.
Macrophages are crucial drivers of inflammatory corneal neovascularization and thus are potential targets for immunomodulatory therapies. We found that mesenchymal stromal cells can modulate the phenotype and angiogenic function of macrophages. Macrophages “educated" by mesenchymal stromal cells express significantly higher levels of anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory factors compared with control macrophages. Furthermore, we have discovered that mesenchymal stromal cells inhibit neutrophil effector functions via direct cell-cell contact interaction during inflammation. Our findings could have implications for the treatment of inflammatory ocular disorders caused by excessive neutrophil activation.
Our team uses lab-on-chip platforms to study mechanobiology and migratory behavior of single immune cells, or the collective migration of immune cells. We use experimental and modeling approaches to study cellular trafficking, to understand cancer immunity and transplant rejection.
For years we have been very active in the area of lipid nanotechnology and membrane engineering. We fabricated the first bacterial lipid membrane model on a chip and developed label-free detection technologies for chip-based membrane sensing, including dual polarization interferometry and quartz crystal microbalance based membrane analysis. We also pioneered the use of quantum mechanical approches for studying electrical properties and vibrational dynamics of lipid bilayers.