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The Bruch's Membrane is an acellular fibrous membrane that comprises the blood-retinal barrier. During macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, this structure becomes damaged. The synthetic polymer polyethylene glycol (PEG) has mechanical properties that can be designed to mimic many soft tissues. In addition, this polymer can be functionalized with specific biological factors. Current efforts are focusing on developing a tissue engineered Bruch's Membrane using PEG as a scaffold.

Cell therapy is the practice of using cells as tiny factories to deliver a therapeutic agent of choice to a wound or tissue. Such therapies have been used to effect bone formation, wound healing, and to control glucose levels in diabetics. The largest hurdle to overcome is rejection of donor cells. By microencapsulating cells within PEG hydrogels, we have been able to immunoisolate these cells.

Nacre is the shiny lustrous inner layer of seashells. Also known as mother of pearl, it is a biomineral with a highly ordered structure that is controlled by proteins within its organic matrix. These proteins are also capable of initiating bone formation, and current efforts concentrate on isolating these proteins for incorporation within biosynthetic materials.



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