Dr. Ryan Gilbert earned a grant of $20,000 for “Mentoring Program to Analyze Biomaterial Release of Therapeutic Agents in Modulating Inflammation and Improving Regeneration within the Injured Spinal Cord”
Benton Martin, Sherri Wiseman, and Rebecca Klank earned 2nd Place Award Undergraduate Research Presentation in the Michigan Tech Undergraduate Research competition.
2nd Place Award Undergraduate Research Presentation
Project Title: Development of Novel Agarose and Methylcellulose Hydrogel Blends for Nerve Regeneration Applications
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ryan Gilbert, Biomedical Engineering
Student Researchers Benton Martin, Sherri Wiseman, Rebecca Klank
Trauma sustained to the central nervous system is a debilitating problem for thousands of people worldwide. Neuronal regeneration within central nervous system is hindered by several factors. Injury stimulates astrocytes to produce inhibitory extracellular matrix molecules which impede regeneration. Inhibitors within myelin, an irregular geometry, and the lack of scaffolding are other factors that constrain neuronal regeneration. Biocompatible hydrogels, injectable at room temperature, that rapidly gel at physiological temperatures (37˚C) are beneficial materials that could hold potential scaffolding materials within the injury site and slowly release beneficial therapeutics to improve regeneration outcomes. Our studies have shown that thermoreversible methylcellulose hydrogels can be combined with nerve growth supportive agarose to create hydrogel blends that accommodate these properties. Three separate novel hydrogel blends were created each using one of three different commercially available agaroses mixed with methylcellulose. Gelation time tests show that the blends gel at a faster rate than base methylcellulose at 37˚C, and culturing experiments show biocompatibility with dissociated dorsal root ganglia neurons. The different blends were further assessed using degradation tests, evaluating pore size characteristics using scanning electron microscopy, and injectability tests. This research demonstrates that blends of agarose and methylcellulose solidify much more quickly than plain methylcellulose, while solidifying at physiological temperatures that agarose cannot solidify at. Thus, these hydrogel blends merit further consideration as a component of a multi-faceted approach to promote nerve regeneration within the damaged spinal cord.
Receiving the Grand Award from the Biotech Research Center was Jared Cregg (Biomedical Engineering) for “Anisotropic Microfibrous Scaffolds for Nerve Regeneration Applications.”
BRC Merit Awards were given to Lindsey Tuominen (SFRES) for “Investigating the Relationship Between Phenolic Glycoside Levels and Expression of Laccase, Phenolic Acyltransferase, and Cytochrome P450 Gene Families in Populus”; Sherri Wiseman (Biomedical Engineering), “Development of Novel Sol-Gel Glasses that Facilitate Neural Adhesion and Neurite Extension In Vitro”; and Christine Zawaski (SFRES), “Regulation of Woody Plant Development by Genes Involved in GA Signal Transduction.”
The Ecosystem Science Center Grand Award was given to Joseph Bump (SFRES) for “Wolves Configure Landscape Heterogeneity through Prey Carcass Distribution.”
The ESC Merit Awards were given to Clara Antón-Fernández (SFRES),”Correcting for Sampling Error in Individual Tree Mortality Models” and Stacie Holmes (SFRES), “Death and Taxus: Survival and Growth of Canada Yew (Taxus canadensis) Cuttings Four Years Post-planting.” Honorable Mention Awards were given to Chris Miller (SFRES), “Wood to Wire from Forest Resources in the Upper Midwest,” and to Timothy Wilson (Biological Sciences), “Re-establishment of Lake Sturgeon in the Ontonagon River, Michigan, Using Streamside Rearing.”
They were selected from among the 30 posters and abstracts submitted by graduate students conducting research related to ecology, the environment and biotechnology at Michigan Tech.