UOHS 2021 Elevator Pitch Winners
UOHS 2021 - 1st Place Elevator Pitch Winner
Heart failure continues to be one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The primary causative agent of chronic heart failure is myocardialinfarction which results in cardiomyocyte necrosis and the subsequent formation of fibrotic scar tissue. Currently, pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies focus on managing symptoms of heart failure yet remain unable to reverse the underlying pathology. Heart transplantation usually cannot be relied on, as there is a major discrepancy between the availability of donors and recipients. As a result, heart failure carries a poor prognosis and high mortality rate. As the heart lacks significant endogenous regeneration potential, novel therapeutic approaches have incorporated the use of stem cells as a vehicle to treat heart failure as they possess the ability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple cell lineages and tissues. Past, present, and future clinical trials, factors that influence stem cell therapy outcomes as well as ethical and safety considerations will be discussed. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown a wide spectrum of outcomes when applying stem cells to improve cardiac function. Thismay reflect the infancy of clinical trials and the limited knowledge on the optimal cell type, dosing, route of administration, patient parameters and other important variables that contribute to successful stem cell therapy. Nonetheless, the field of stem cell therapeutics continues to advance at an unprecedented pace. We remain cautiously optimistic that stem cells will play a role in heart failure management in years to come.
UOHS 2021 - 2nd Place Elevator Pitch Winner
Preserving biological specimens such as individual cells or biological tissues has proven to be crucial in regard to cell-based therapeutics. Unfortunately, current cryopreservation protocols remain suboptimal, reducing the potency of cellular products being developed for cell and gene therapy applications in modern medicine. To minimize cellular damage from ice recrystallization during freezing and thawing, cryopreservation techniques require the use of ice recrystallization inhibitors or cryoprotectants to help maintain cellular viability and metabolic functions post-thaw. Currently, a commonly used but relatively toxic cryoprotectant is dimethyl sulfoxide. Betaine is an organic molecule that has recently been claimed to function as a cryoprotectant. Here, we hypothesize that betaine has the ability to inhibit ice recrystallization and thus reduce cryoinjury as well as enhance post-thaw cell viability and functionality. The cryopreservation properties of commercially available betaine hydrochloride salt will be quantitatively assessed using an ice recrystallization inhibition assay and the compound’s cytotoxicity potential will be assessed using a Resazurin assay on HepG2 cell cultures. Given acceptable result profiles form these two techniques, a modified AnnexinV/Sytox ISHAGE cytometry gating strategy in appropriate adherent and non-adherent cells will be performed to measure post-thaw cell viability. If results demonstrate betaine to effectively inhibit ice recrystallization while increasing post-thaw recoveries and functionality, then this would indicate its potential for use as an ice recrystallization inhibitor instead of the relatively toxic cryoprotectant, dimethyl sulfoxide. Thus, insight obtained from this project could play a key role in implementing the use of cellular therapies in a clinical environment.
UOHS 2021 - 3rd Place Elevator Pitch Winner