Research efforts led by Dr. Chia-Ying “James” Lin at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), in collaboration with his colleagues at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), have resulted in a significant National Institute of Health (NIH) grant as well as the prestigious CCHMC 2017 Innovation Award, funded by Ohio Third Frontier.
Dr. Lin, the Dane Miller Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Head of the Structural Tissue Evaluation and Engineering Laboratory (STEEL) and Associate Professor in the CEAS Department of Biomedical Engineering, serves as Principal Investigator (PI) for the $446,324 NIH project entitled, “Development of Hybrid Tracheas for Long-Segment Tracheal Reconstruction.”
For this research, Dr. Lin is working with Dr. John van Aalst, the division director of plastic surgery at CCHMC and the Research Director of Shriners Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Sandro de Alarcon, an otolaryngological surgeon and Director of the Center for Pediatric Voice Disorders at CCHMC.
Currently, there are no reliable clinical options for complete tracheal replacement in patients with end-stage tracheal disease. To date, engineered scaffolds have been used in trachea reconstruction and they often encounter a plethora of issues, including; inadequate length and diameter, incomplete healing that results in perforations/air leaks/strictures/infection, absence of glandular function, and the inability to grow with the patient.
Using the 3D bio-printing technique developed by the STEEL group, Dr. Lin and his PhD student, Stacey Gruber, are working to create a hybrid biomaterial trachea to replace these rigid scaffolds. The team’s proposed hybrid will have increased flexibility to adapt and grow with a patient’s anatomical dimensions along with the desired structure and function of a healthy trachea.
Additionally, Dr. Lin serves as Co-PI alongside Dr. Jose Peiro-Ibanez, MD and Edoscopic Fetal Surgery Director of the CCHMC Division of General and Thoracic Surgery, on their research project, “Shape-Memory Patch for Prenatal Spina Bifida Repair by Fetascopic Approach.”
Myelomeningocele (MMC), or spina bifida, is a devastating neurologic congenital defect in which a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop or close properly while in the womb. Once born, the condition cannot be cured. Fortunately, the defect can be repaired in-utero, and there is an enormous need to obtain a “smart” patch that is self-expanding, impermeable to stop the cerebral spinal fluid leak, and biodegradable to accommodate healing as the baby grows.
Drs. Lin and Peiro-Ibanez have developed a native smart patch that blends two polymers used in existing biodegradable spinal implants. The leak-proof patch possesses the desired properties of shape retention, biocompatibility, and biodegradation. In support of the team’s entrepreneurship, they received the $100K CCHMC 2017 Innovation Award, funded by Ohio Third Frontier.