Gonçalo Rodrigues

Ph.D student


M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering, IST-UTL, 2012

Research Activities

My research is focused on the development of robust and cost-effective protocols for human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) expansion and highly-controlled differentiation under xeno-free conditions. In a first stage this project will develop a scalable culture platform for monolayer expansion and differentiation of hPSC into dopaminergic neurons using synthetic high-affinity peptide ligands. Simultaneously, purification methods (such as affinity chromatography with monolithic cryogels, magnetic activated cell sorting and microfluidic systems) will be tested to overcome one of the greatest hurdles related to the use of hPSC. Although these cells have an enormous potential for clinical applications and for developmental studies, due to their ability to generate cells from the three embryonic germ layers, they proliferate rather fast and may give origin to tumors when transplanted in vivo and may alter the phenotype, if present, in in vitro differentiated cell-populations. Clinical applications with cells derived from hPSCs will only be possible with the use of a cost effective cell purification method integrated in a bioprocess capable of, specifically and efficiently, generating terminally differentiated hPSC-derived cells, under xeno-free conditions. Finally, knowing that the use of embryonic stem cells raises a lot of ethical concerns and does not overcomes immunorejection hurdles, this project will be developed, mainly, with the use of an human induced pluripotent stem cell line.

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