IU School of Medicine launches regenerative medicine center

August 16, 2018

Indiana University School of Medicine is investing more than $20 million over the next five years to establish a new center focused on regenerative medicine, a rapidly developing field aimed at repairing and replacing tissue and organs damaged by age, disease or trauma.

Chandan Sen, PhD, one of the nation’s leading experts in the discipline, has been recruited from The Ohio State University to serve as inaugural director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering effective August 15. He brings with him more than $10 million in research grants and a team of more than 30 scientists and staff, who will study how to tap into the power of regenerative medicine and engineering to heal burns, develop new therapies for diabetic complications, treat injured soldiers, and even regrow damaged and diseased tissue.

“The potential of regenerative medicine is tremendous, and in Chandan Sen we will have one the country’s most accomplished and innovative researchers leading our program,” said IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA. “We expect IU School of Medicine to be among a handful of top institutions delivering on the promise of regenerative medicine. The discoveries made and the new therapies and devices developed at this center will improve the lives of Hoosiers and of patients everywhere.”

Sen and his team have already developed a non-invasive, nanochip device that uses technology called tissue nanotransfection to reprogram one type of tissue into another with a simple touch and electric spark that is harmless to the body. In laboratory studies, the group was able to convert skin tissue in mice into functional blood vessels that were used to repair a badly injured leg. Similar experiments have shown promise in larger animals such as the pig.

The technology has been licensed with the goal of making it available for use in humans. Sen feels confident that this technology—which avoids the use of stem cells and is simple to use—will one day enable skin and other tissue to be converted to tissue types necessary for therapy. For example, it may help prevent amputation in diabetics and repair nerve damage related to neuropathy.

A team of interdisciplinary experts will continue developing the technology at the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering, which will involve a collaboration with faculty across multiple disciplines at Indiana University as well as in the Purdue University Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

“The vision of this center is to take regenerative medicine forward in a way that no one else is doing in the world today,” Sen said. “Each cell of the adult body has some regenerative properties, some more than others. Our approach aims at reprogramming adult tissue utilizing our own technologies that can be readily used in a field setting without any laboratory-based procedures. We plan to use the technologies at our disposal—some of which were generated by our group and some of which are available at IU and Purdue—to develop transformative health care solutions that will clearly impact people ‘s lives.”

Read the full news release for details about the center’s partnerships and statements from collaborators.