Dr. François Berthod is a professor at the Department of Surgery of the Laval University School of Medicine, and researcher at LOEX, Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus, CHU de Québec-Laval University research center.

The main objective of his research program is to use tissue-engineering techniques of in vitro organ reconstruction to model different diseases that can be induced, or modulated by the nervous system. These models will be useful to better understand the disease mechanisms and to find new therapeutic approaches. In addition, one of his projects aims to repair peripheral nerve injuries through the development of a nerve tube produced by tissue engineering with the patient’s own cells.

Development of in vitro models of diseases by tissue engineering

Many human diseases have causes and mechanisms that are still poorly understood, making it difficult to find more efficient drugs. Using patient cells, it is possible to reconstruct organs affected by these diseases, and recapitulate their effects in vitro to better understand their mechanisms, and use these models to test the efficacy of new drugs.

In the case of modeling psoriasis, Dr. Berthod’s team hypothesized that cutaneous innervation could play a major role in lesion formation, and developed, in collaboration with Dr. Roxane Pouliot, an innervated and immunocompetent psoriatic skin model to study this disease.

To model amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease, Dr. Berthod’s team uses tissue engineering tools. Motor neurons are cultured with astrocytes, microglia, Schwann cells, and myotubes in a compartmentalized three-dimensional construct to recapitulate the neurodegenerative process.

Repair of peripheral nerves by tissue engineering

Peripheral nerve injuries cause paralysis of the affected limbs. The current surgical options for repairing major deficits are ineffective. Dr. Berthod has developed, in collaboration with Dr. Hélène Khuong, neurosurgeon, a project to produce a nerve tube made up of the patient’s own cells, and tailored to bridge the nerve gap. The production of an autologous living tube is a major innovation that should greatly stimulate axonal migration in the graft and promote regeneration of the injured nerve, allowing motor and sensitive recoveries of the limb.

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Lemarchand M, Thouin K, De Serres-Bérard T, Bellenfant S, Cadau S, Berthod F

In vitro glycation of a tissue-engineered wound healing model to mimic diabetic ulcers

Journal Article

Biotechnol Bioeng, 120 (6), 2023.

Abstract | Links:

Louit A, Beaudet MJ, Pépin R, Berthod F

Differentiation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells into Mature and Myelinating Schwann Cells

Journal Article

Tissue Eng Part C Methods, 29 (4), 2023.

Abstract | Links:

Louit A, Galbraith T, Berthod F

In Vitro 3D Modeling of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Journal Article

Bioengineering (Basel), 10 (1), 2023.

Abstract | Links:

Louit A, Beaudet MJ, Blais M, Gros-Louis F, Dupré N, Berthod F

In Vitro Characterization of Motor Neurons and Purkinje Cells Differentiated from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Generated from Patients with Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay

Journal Article

Stem Cells Int, 2023 , 2023.

Abstract | Links:

Clément V, Roy V, Paré B, Goulet CR, Deschênes LT, Berthod F, Bolduc S, Gros-Louis F

Tridimensional cell culture of dermal fibroblasts promotes exosome-mediated secretion of extracellular matrix proteins

Journal Article

Sci Rep, 12 (1), 2022.

Abstract | Links:

Louit A, Beaudet MJ, Gros-Louis F, Berthod F

Tissue-engineered in vitro modeling of the impact of Schwann cells in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Journal Article

Biotechnol Bioeng, 119 (7), 2022.

Abstract | Links:

Roy V, Ross JP, Pépin R, Cortez Ghio S, Brodeur A, Touzel Deschênes L, Le-Bel G, Phillips DE, Milot G, Dion PA, Guérin S, Germain L, Berthod F, Auger FA, Rouleau GA, Dupré N, Gros-Louis F

Moyamoya Disease Susceptibility Gene RNF213 Regulates Endothelial Barrier Function

Journal Article

Stroke, 53 (4), 2022.

Abstract | Links:

Thibodeau A, Galbraith T, Fauvel CM, Khuong HT, Berthod F

Repair of peripheral nerve injuries using a prevascularized cell-based tissue-engineered nerve conduit

Journal Article

Biomaterials, 280 , 2022.

Abstract | Links:

Muller Q, Berthod F, Flacher V

[Tridimensional in vitro models of nervous and immune systems in the skin]

Journal Article

Med Sci (Paris), 37 (1), 2021.

Abstract | Links:

De Serres Bérard T, Becher TB, Braga CB, Ornelas C, Berthod F

Neuropeptide Substance P Released from a Nonswellable Laponite-Based Hydrogel Enhances Wound Healing in a Tissue-Engineered Skin In Vitro

Journal Article

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces, 2 (12), 2020.

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Active projects

  • Breaking barriers in drug delivery via using viscoplastic fluids for precise control of jet evolution and penetration, from 2024-03-31 to 2026-03-30
  • Depicting disease heterogeneity in neurofibromatosis type 1 and the role of dermal fibroblasts in the establishment of microenvironment favouring NF1-associated skin tumor formation using personalized tissue-engineered 3D models, from 2023-10-01 to 2028-09-30
  • Modélisation par génie tissulaire du rôle du système nerveux sensoriel dans la rosacée, from 2024-02-05 to 2027-04-04
  • Organogenèse de muqueuse nasale autologue pour la reconstruction endoscopique endonasale en chirurgie de la base du crâne, from 2023-10-01 to 2028-09-30
  • Réparation des lésions des nerfs périphériques par génie tissulaire, from 2021-04-01 to 2026-03-31
  • Un environnement sécuritaire pour des animaux immunosupprimés, from 2023-01-01 to 2024-05-24

Recently finished projects

  • Conversion directe de fibroblastes en cellules de Schwann pour stimuler la réparation des nerfs périphériques, from 2022-04-01 to 2023-03-31
  • Depicting disease heterogeneity in neurofibromatosis type 1 and the role of microenvironment in NF1-associated skin tumor formation through personalized tissue-engineered 3D models, from 2023-03-01 to 2024-02-29
  • Étude de l'impact de l'innervation cutanée dans le Psoriasis, from 2018-04-01 to 2023-03-31
  • Modélisation par génie tissulaire de la modulation de l'angiogenèse par l'innervation sensorielle, from 2018-04-01 to 2024-03-31
Data provided by the Université Laval research projects registery