Subhadeep Das, a research scholar of the IITB-Monash Joint PhD program successfully defended his PhD thesis viva on 5th July 2017 for his thesis titled ‘Engineering Amyloid Fibrils for Nanotechnology and Neuronal Cell Regeneration.’
Subhadeep’s work focused on addressing regenerating damaged cells in the brain for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s that cannot be cured with drugs. Stem cells, which are undifferentiated biological cells that self-renew and develop into different cell types, are a versatile cell source for therapeutic applications in regeneration of diseased or injured tissues. A major roadblock in stem cell based therapy for brain tissue engineering is the absence of proper matrices or scaffolds that would be aid the development of neurons from stem cells, without triggering an acute immune reaction when implanted in brain.
In his research project, he developed a biocompatible scaffold to support cell growth and development in the brain. He has developed hydrogels from a special class of proteins called amyloids, which provide scaffolding for stem cells to develop into neurons, when implanted in the brain. The robust hydrogel systems based on amyloid nanofibres are injectable and can be delivered into the target site with minimally invasive surgery. The gels are also biodegradable, and thus they don’t stay in the brain indefinitely.
“It is beyond doubt that stem cell therapy is going to change the landscape of medicine. But these magic cells are difficult to control and success in therapy requires their steadfast manipulation. The material that we have developed for stem cell manipulation and neuron regeneration could improve millions of lives, which is very motivating,” says Subhadeep.
He was jointly guided by Prof. Samir Maji (IIT Bombay) and Prof. John Forsythe (Monash University) for his project. He is the 58th graduate from the Academy.
Prof Maji said- “Subhadeep has done wonderful work both at IITB and at Monash University and able to co-ordinate successfully among various people for his work. He has published two highly reputed international Journals (NPG Asia Materials and Advanced Healthcare Materials). I think he possesses an exceptional scientific potential with high prospects. I wish him best for his future endeavours.
We received strong support from the academy whenever we need and a special thanks to Prof. Sastry, present CEO of the Academy for his encouragement and support to Subhadeep and me”.
Subhadeep plans to further develop the hydrogels by commercializing them into a viable therapy for Parkinson’s disease. We wish him all the success in his future endeavors!