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SELECTBIO Conferences The Space Summit 2021

Yupeng Chen's Biography

Yupeng Chen, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut

Dr. Yupeng Chen received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and chemistry at Brown University. Dr. Chen has a long-term interest in designing and developing DNA-inspired Janus base nanomaterials for RNA/DNA therapeutics and regenerative medicine. He is the inventor of Janus base nanopiece and nano-matrix technologies. His work has been published as a series of high-impact papers, and his patents have been successfully licensed to industry. Dr. Chen was elected as a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2021 as a recognition of his effort in translating scientific breakthroughs into applications. Dr. Chen was awarded the grand prize (top one among 545 worldwide candidates) in the New Investigator Recognition Awards from the Orthopaedic Research Society in 2013, and the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from NSF in 2017. Dr. Chen serves as a reviewer in many journals and several NIH and NSF review panels. Dr. Chen has received many competitive federal research grants from NIH, NSF, NASA, DOD and CASIS. Most recently, Dr. Chen was funded to develop and evaluate Janus base nanomaterials on the International Space Station (ISS) for in-space manufacturing, therapeutics and tissue engineering.

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Injectable Nano-Matrix for Cartilage Tissue Chips

Friday, 1 October 2021 at 14:30

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Absence of biomechanical loading in microgravity can result in articular cartilage degeneration. Once damaged, cartilage has very limited self-regeneration. Therefore, many biomaterial scaffolds have been developed for cartilage tissue engineering. Conventional solid scaffolds are not injectable so they have limitations for applications in “difficult-to-reach” locations, such as microchannels of tissue chips or deep-tissue damage; hydrogels are semisolid materials so they don’t have solid surface for cell anchorage which could be a limitation in space. To overcome this challenge, we have developed a family of self-assembled scaffolds, named Nano-Matrices (NMs). NMs are formed by the self-assembly between Janus base nanotubes (JBNTs, non-covalent nanotubes mimicking DNA base pairs) and extracellular matrix proteins (such as matrilin, a cartilage specific protein). We have also found that the NM presented synergistic functions from JBNTs and matrilin, which can create a micro-environment selectively promoting chondro-lineage cell growth and differentiation. Moreover, NMs, as a solid scaffold, have excellent injectability that can be applied in the microchannels of tissue chips to improve cartilage cells anchorage and functions. Therefore, the NM may be a suitable tissue engineering scaffold for cartilage tissue chips on Earth and in space.

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