National Yang-Ming University
By giving a speech back in Taiwan, Dr. Yen-Chun Lu of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hoped for a chance to collaborate with the lecturers of National Yang-Ming University through the assistance of Yang-Ming GLORIA, maximizing the value of microencapsulation. From left: Dean of Research and Development Yu-Te Wu, Chief Executive Officer Hsien-Chih Pei, Dr. Yen-Chun Lu, Assistant Professor Hsueh-Te Lee, Professor Yi-Hsuan Lee, Dr. Chih-Sheng Chiang, and Associate Professor Hui-Ting Chen


Chief Executive Officer Hsien-Chih Pei met Dr. Yen-Chun Lu, an expert in biomedical engineering, in the GLORIA Investment Fair of the Eastern United States this October, and invited him to give a presentation back in Taiwan. The topic is “Small capsules, Big potential: Compartmentalized hydrogel microcapsules and their applications in microtissue engineering and cell therapy.” This was the first time GLORIA conducted special topics lectures, and it hoped to introduce the resources of MIT to the lecturers of National Yang-Ming University through their communication and spark the chances of collaboration between Taiwan and the U.S. 
 
Dr. Lu has a background in chemical engineering. His study mainly focuses on the production of microcapsules using special electrostatic spray techniques. He also conducts different types of researches after changing the material of microcapsules and the content inside them. This technology has been widely applied; microcapsules from the size of nanoscale to macromolecule-scale have their uses. Dr. Lu’s team has been able to produce 13000 microcapsules per minute; this level of mass production is enough for commercial applications.
 
Dr. Lu gave an example; his team has once cultured stem cells using microcapsules to create organoid structure. For instance, treating type I diabetes with islet cell-containing microcapsules. Through the protection given by microcapsules, these organoids can better fight against the shear force coming from the external culture environment. Their survival rate has also increased from 20 – 30% to 80% during cryopreservation. Organoid models are at present better at reflecting the physiological and pathological states of living organisms compared to the traditional cell culture systems, and they can be well applied to drug development and pathogenesis researches. It may be said that organoids are one of the most popular topics in recent years.
 
Apart from organoid production, they have also been collaborating with other doctors to investigate the pathogenesis of breast cancer. They have discovered that the benign mammary gland cells in microcapsules would turn into malignant tumor cells due to physical confinement. These pathological changes did not seem to occur through DNA mutations, but epigenetic control in response to the changing external environment. After further investigation, they found that the physical confinement of the microenvironment resulted in the binding of integrins on cell membranes to the insulinoid receptors, which led to cell canceration. People may have the opportunity to apply these research results to the development and screening of cancer drugs. 
 
The lecturers responded with enthusiasm after the lecture and were proactive in seeking for the possibilities to collaborate with Dr. Lu’s team. Professor Yi-Hsuan Lee, Department and Institute of Physiology, raised questions regarding microcapsules’ applications, such as their ability to coat neuronal cells and show features similar to those of the blood-brain barrier. Dr. Lu claimed that microcapsules are a vehicle platform with high capacity. His team can collaborate with biomedical scientists from different fields in the future to develop microcapsules with various features and apply them to developing drugs in specific pharmaceutical areas that are hard to achieve, including drugs for cranial nerves.


 

This was the first time GLORIA conducted special topics lectures. Dean of Research and Development Yu-Te Wu (right) has attended the lecture specially to show support for the event. Left: Professor Yi-Hsuan Lee, Department and Institute of Physiology
 
 

Associate Professor Hui-Ting Chen, Faculty of Pharmacy, considered the technology developed by Dr. Lu’s team a suitable platform for drug screening

 
 

Assistant Professor Hsueh-Te Lee, Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, shared his experiences in his research on breast cancer with brain metastases with Dr. Lu

 
 

Dr. Chih-Sheng Chiang from Goldsitron asked whether microcapsules applied to different fields, such as stem cells and cancers, show a difference in the features of the material making up their outer layer



 

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