Bio Patrika interviews Mr. Chameettachal on his thoughts about “application of Biomimetic Hydrogel for Corneal Tissue Regeneration”

Mr. Shibu Chameettachal’s interview with Bio Patrika hosting “Vigyan Patrika”, a series of author interviews. Shibu has started his career as a microbiologist and selected Tissue engineering as his area of research. He has gained research experience at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi before joining PhD. He is currently a PhD scholar at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. His research interest is in 3D bioprinting of tissue and organ development and currently working on corneal regeneration. He is a recipient of the prestigious Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award in 2018. Shibu has a good publication record, including reviews and book chapters. He presented his research work at national and international conferences. Here Shibu talks about his first author publication “Differentiation In Vitro Using a Biomimetic ECM Hydrogel for Corneal Tissue Regeneration” published in ACS Applied Bio Materials.

How would you explain your paper’s key results to the non-scientific community?

Corneal scarring is one of the major leading causes of blindness, affecting millions worldwide. Despite recent advancements in surgical strategies, there is an unmet need for a clinically feasible material and method to prevent scarring following corneal injury. We have developed a hydrogel from discarded bovine corneas. The most striking feature of the DCM hydrogel is its ability to prevent the cells from scar tissue formation. Thus, we believe that the developed DCM hydrogel has immense translation potential for different corneal pathologies including traumatic injuries, subsequent scar formation, and even for regenerating entire cornea, thereby eliminating the current dependency on the donor corneas.

Figure 1. The discarded corneas from a slaughterhouse has been processed and prepared a hydrogel. This hydrogel shows the ability to prevent the transformation of corneal fibroblast to scar-forming cells and maintain the morphology and function of cells which helps the cornea to be transparent.

“[….] DCM hydrogel has immense translation potential for different corneal pathologies including traumatic injuries, subsequent scar formation, and even for regenerating entire cornea, thereby eliminating the current dependency on the donor corneas”

What are the possible consequences of these findings for your research area?

We believe that the developed DCM hydrogel has immense translation potential for different corneal pathologies including traumatic injuries and subsequent scar formation, Corneal ectasia and even regenerating the entire cornea, thereby eliminating the current dependency on the donor corneas.

What was the exciting moment (eureka moment) during your research?

We have developed this hydrogel using a new protocol we developed. The day we realised that cells could grow better in hydrogel prepared using our one chemical protocol than using the existing protocol for tissue hydrogel preparation and preventing the conversion of corneal cells to scar-forming cells was the eureka moment.

What do you hope to do next?

Many works are in the pipeline. Already we completed a few sets of pre-clinical studies, which is giving promising results. Planning to do human pilot studies for some of its applications.

Where do you seek scientific inspiration?

The inspiration is the excitement and pleasure while finding things out and also scientists who do translational research have always been an inspiration.

How do you intend to help Indian science improve?

Science should contribute something to society. Like any other researcher, I also would like to do so. More than doctors and engineers we also need good researchers, so request parents to give an additional option to your child to become a scientist who can contribute to society.

Reference

Shibu Chameettachal, Deeksha Prasad, Yash Parekh, Sayan Basu, Vivek Singh*, Kiran Kumar Bokara*, and Falguni Pati. Prevention of Corneal Myofibroblastic Differentiation In Vitro Using a Biomimetic ECM Hydrogel for Corneal Tissue Regeneration. ACS Appl. Bio Mater. 2021, 4, 1, 533–544.

Email: bm16resch11004@iith.ac.in

GYTI 2018 awardee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?a&v=h6TynOcmbp0&feature=youtu.be

Learn more about Prof. Falguni Pati lab here: https://biofablab-com.webnode.com/

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