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Johan E. Morales-Sánchez

Biotechnology Research Center, Costa Rica Institute of Technology

Johan Morales-Sánchez is a biotechnology engineer graduated in 2014 from the Costa Rica Institute of Tecnology (TEC), who currently works as a researcher in the Biotechnology Research Center from TEC. During the last years, he has taught pre-grad students in this university about Biology and Cell Culture, and has also been focused in tissue engineering and laboratory animal research.

Stem cell therapies for skin regeneration in animal models, Costa Rica experiences


The Tissue Engineering Laboratory (LAINTEC) of the Costa Rican Institute of Technology (TEC), started activities in 2005 aiming to develop cell therapies focused on skin regeneration. Throughout the last fifteen years, this laboratory has grown and the research has diversified, so now it has more than a dozen of multidisciplinary projects focused on regenerative skin therapies, development of three-dimensional models of skin, muscle and bone, evaluation of new biomaterials, among other research lines. One of the most important areas is the development of skin regeneration therapies. As part of the experience, we have worked with two approaches using different types of stem cells: epidermal stem cell (ESC) and adipose derived stem / stromal cell (ASC). First, ESC were isolated, expanded and characterized analyzing cytokeratines 10, 14 and 15 expression. To evaluate the regeneration potential of ESCs, a controlled full thickness skin wound was performed in the interscapular area in an adult rat model and a plasma-based matrix (PBM) with fibroblasts and keratinocytes applied, compared with a PBM with fibroblasts or PBM alone as control. On the other hand ADSC were isolated and the identificated using CD73, CD90, CD105 and CD45 markers. Also, the differentiation potential was analyzed. To evaluate the regeneration using ASC, 5 six-week-old BalbC mice per group were subcutaneously treated with: ASC in saline solution, ASC seeded on a natural scaffold and scaffold with saline solution. A positive and negative control was also performed. After two weeks of treatment, at a macroscopic level, both treatments showed no significant differences in the regeneration rate. However, the ASC treated group, showed more vascularization and a better collagen fibers organization compared with the control groups. Eventhough is necessary more preclinical testing and evidence, these experiments present the first steps taken in Costa Rica towards cellular therapy development as well as strengthening research in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.