Research  
 
Dr. Sang-heon Kim

Cell adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) is just as critical in determining cell fate - including cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation - as is the niche environment. Biofunctional materials have accordingly been designed as an artificial ECM (art-ECM) to stimulate cell adhesion and particular cellular functions, resulting in a field appropriately termed “matrix engineering”. In our strategies, we aim to induce the specific differentiation of stem cells via the enhancement of seletcive interactions between such materials and stem cells. The use of bioactive polypeptides, such as growth factor (GF) or cytokine, and employment of fused materials are such examples.

In addition, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold great promise as an important cell source for regenerative medicine, and would benefit from extensive studies elucidating their adhesion mechanisms.
We accordingly demonstrate the role of heparin sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG) on the MSC membrane in cellular adhesion onto fibronectin. Furthermore, we design polystyrene surfaces immobilized with FGF2 as a means to fabricate an HSPG targeting art-ECM, ultimately for the enhancement of MSC adhesion. Our recent work involves the development of an innovative 3D cell mass (3DCM) culture system based on the cellular adhesion mechanisms of FGF2-immobilized substrates, and hope will aid in improving the therapeutic/biomedical potential of 3DCMs.