In the lab
In the laboratory, Dr David Chau and his PhD students have been exploring how various parts of the mulberry tree could be exploited for biomedical applications.
The demand for organs and tissues for biomedical applications far exceeds their availability. Tissue engineering, a branch of novel translational science, has made significant advances in the field by providing the technology to generate replacement materials. However, a limiting factor is the requirement of the provision of a network that can provide oxygen and nutrient to the cells - especially in large constructs such as complete organs.
Decellularization is a technique used to remove cellular material from a tissue or an organ and leave behind the (skeleton) framework. Plants, including the mulberry, have an innate vascular network used to transport fluids and chemicals systemically. Accordingly, research has considered the possibility of creating hybrid systems that combine (human) cells and the plant skeleton to create fully functional organs that, one day, could be exploited in transplant therapy, or used in the development of new and novel drug entities.