In their collaborative research efforts, Drs. Erin and Wellington Hsu head the Laboratory for Bone Biology Research within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Their collective work encompasses two major research arms—Regenerative Technologies and Bone Toxicology.
The first research arm aims to improve upon current clinically-employed methods of bone regeneration by developing and testing novel biomaterials. In conjunction with colleagues in the Simpson Querrey Institute, these projects seek to incorporate novel materials such as bioactive peptide amphiphile-based nanofibers and 3D-printed ceramics into viable bone graft substitutes for spine fusion and other bone regenerative applications.
In their Bone Toxicology research, the Hsu Laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms by which environmental chemicals such as those present in cigarette smoke inhibit osteogenic differentiation and bone healing. Their work has shown that dioxin, which is a carcinogenic byproduct of combustion and a persistent environmental contaminant, inhibits bone formation and spine fusion in the rat. Since dioxin is a potent ligand for the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr) and is thought to exert its toxic effects primarily through activation of that receptor pathway, this work aims to leverage these discoveries to develop a viable therapeutic approach to combat the inhibitory effects of cigarette smoke and related toxins on bone healing.
Current External Funding (September 2018)
“3D-printed hyperelastic bone composites for bone regeneration and spine fusion” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Bioengineering Research Grant (R01)
“Resveratrol as a therapeutic to reverse the adverse effects of cigarette smoke on bone” Cervical Spine Research Society 21st Century Research Grant
“A Nanofiber Scaffold as an Improved Carrier for Ultra Low-dose Rh-BMP-2 Delivery”Medtronic Sofamor Danek Sponsored Research Grant
“A Rat paraspinal neuroinflammation model-to study host response to rhPDGF-BB combined with a beta-tricalcium phosphate (b-TCP)/bovine collagen matrix” Wright Medical Group N.V. Sponsored Research Grant (2/1/18-1/31/19) Role: Principal Investigator
“Supramolecular nanofibers for recombinant growth factor-free spine fusion” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) BRG (R01)
“A thermoresponsive, strontium-containing, citrate scaffold for spine fusion” Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation Resident Research Grant
Current Internal Funding (September 2018)
“Does local steriod application reduce fusion rates in a rat posterolateral spinal arthrodesis model?”
“Proof-of-concept for the utility of a multifunctional nanofiber scaffold to regenerate bone in an adverse healing environment”
“Can a novel 3D printed, citrate-based, strontium containing material serve as a bioresorbable bone graft with osteoinductive properties?”