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Adam McInnes is developing a new gel to promote tissue growth for 3D printing of artificial organs

College of Engineering scholar wins prestigious national award

University of Saskatchewan (USask) Biomedical Engineering student Adam McInnes has been awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship for research that will advance regenerative medicine.

McInnes was one of three USask researchers to receive an award. The others were toxicology researcher Jonathan Challis and sociology researcher Holly McKenzie.

“These stellar scholars will contribute to cutting-edge research that will help improve our health and environment and position them as the research leaders of tomorrow,” said USask Vice-President Research Karen Chad.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recognizes top-tier doctoral students who demonstrate excellence in academia, research impact and leadership at Canadian universities. McInnes has been awarded a Vanier Scholarship of $150,000 over three years to develop a new gel to promote tissue growth for 3D printing of artificial organs that may one day be used for transplants.

Potentially a multi-billion-dollar industry, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering involve growing new organs using patients’ own cells to decrease the chance of the body rejecting the organs.

But cells cannot function outside the body for a long time and it is difficult to ensure a continuous blood supply into the tissues. McInnes’ new water-based gel helps stabilize cells and improve their ability to grow in the lab.

“My research holds promise for advancing regenerative medicine, especially for people who need organ replacements,” said McInnes, a Métis student. His co-supervisors are Daniel Chen and Mike Moser.

McInnes’ next step is to use his material to 3D print structures called scaffolds for growing artificial tissues, a first step to growing organs such as kidneys and livers. Around 5,000 Canadians are on the wait list for transplants and one in three people will die before organs become available.

“Adam’s research will have a big impact on people’s health,” said Chen, a biomedical engineering professor and McInnes’ co-supervisor.

Moser, a general surgery professor and McInnes’ other supervisor, noted that this research will be very important for future management of chronic organ failure.

Federica Giannelli is a graduate student intern in the University of Saskatchewan research profile and impact unit.

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