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Electrospinning of bioactive dex-PAA hydrogel fibers

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In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the

In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the cellular response or (2) acting as a protective barrier, to camouflage the foreign nature of a material and evade recognition by the immune system. Comprehensive characterization and in vitro studies described here provide a foundation for developing substrates for use in clinical applications. Hydrogel dextran and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) fibers are formed via electrospinning, in sizes ranging from nanometers to microns in diameter. While "as-electrospun" fibers are continuous in length, sonication is used to fragment fibers into short fiber "bristles" and generate nano- and micro- fibrous surface coatings over a wide range of topographies. Dex-PAA fibrous surfaces are chemically modified, and then optimized and characterized for non-fouling and ECM-mimetic properties. The non-fouling nature of fibers is verified, and cell culture studies show differential responses dependent upon chemical, topographical and mechanical properties. Dex-PAA fibers are advantageously unique in that (1) a fine degree of control is possible over three significant parameters critical for modifying cellular response: topography, chemistry and mechanical properties, over a range emulating that of native cellular environments, (2) the innate nature of the material is non-fouling, providing an inert background for adding back specific bioactive functionality, and (3) the fibers can be applied as a surface coating or comprise the scaffold itself. This is the first reported work of dex-PAA hydrogel fibers formed via electrospinning and thermal cross-linking, and unique to this method, no toxic solvents or cross-linking agents are needed to create hydrogels or for surface attachment. This is also the first reported work of using sonication to fragment electrospun hydrogel fibers, and in which surface coatings were made via simple electrostatic interaction and dehydration. These versatile features enable fibrous surface coatings to be applied to virtually any material. Results of this research broadly impact the design of biomaterials which contact cells in the body by directing the consequent cell-material interaction.

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2011

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Formation of biomimetic membranes on inorganic supports of different surface morphology and macroscopic geometry

Description

Biological membranes are critical to cell sustainability by selectively permeating polar molecules into the intracellular space and providing protection to the interior organelles. Biomimetic membranes (model cell membranes) are often used to fundamentally study the lipid bilayer backbone structure of

Biological membranes are critical to cell sustainability by selectively permeating polar molecules into the intracellular space and providing protection to the interior organelles. Biomimetic membranes (model cell membranes) are often used to fundamentally study the lipid bilayer backbone structure of the biological membrane. Lipid bilayer membranes are often supported using inorganic materials in an effort to improve membrane stability and for application to novel biosensing platforms. Published literature has shown that a variety of dense inorganic materials with various surface properties have been investigated for the study of biomimetic membranes. However, literature does not adequately address the effect of porous materials or supports with varying macroscopic geometries on lipid bilayer membrane behavior. The objective of this dissertation is to present a fundamental study on the synthesis of lipid bilayer membranes supported by novel inorganic supports in an effort to expand the number of available supports for biosensing technology. There are two fundamental areas covered including: (1) synthesis of lipid bilayer membranes on porous inorganic materials and (2) synthesis and characterization of cylindrically supported lipid bilayer membranes. The lipid bilayer membrane formation behavior on various porous supports was studied via direct mass adsorption using a quartz crystal microbalance. Experimental results demonstrate significantly different membrane formation behaviors on the porous inorganic supports. A lipid bilayer membrane structure was formed only on SiO2 based surfaces (dense SiO2 and silicalite, basic conditions) and gamma-alumina (acidic conditions). Vesicle monolayer adsorption was observed on gamma-alumina (basic conditions), and yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) of varying roughness. Parameters such as buffer pH, surface chemistry and surface roughness were found to have a significant impact on the vesicle adsorption kinetics. Experimental and modeling work was conducted to study formation and characterization of cylindrically supported lipid bilayer membranes. A novel sensing technique (long-period fiber grating refractometry) was utilized to measure the formation mechanism of lipid bilayer membranes on an optical fiber. It was found that the membrane formation kinetics on the fiber was similar to its planar SiO2 counterpart. Fluorescence measurements verified membrane transport behavior and found that characterization artifacts affected the measured transport behavior.

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2011

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Novel biopolymer treatment for wind induced soil erosion

Description

It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of

It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of different polymer stabilizers are available on the market for fugitive dust control. Most of these polymer stabilizers are expensive synthetic polymer products. Their adverse effects and expense usually limits their use. Biopolymers provide a potential alternative to synthetic polymers. They can provide dust abatement by encapsulating soil particles and creating a binding network throughout the treated area. This research into the effectiveness of biopolymers for fugitive dust control involved three phases. Phase I included proof of concept tests. Phase II included carrying out the tests in a wind tunnel. Phase III consisted of conducting the experiments in the field. Proof of concept tests showed that biopolymers have the potential to reduce soil erosion and fugitive dust transport. Wind tunnel tests on two candidate biopolymers, xanthan and chitosan, showed that there is a proportional relationship between biopolymer application rates and threshold wind velocities. The wind tunnel tests also showed that xanthan gum is more successful in the field than chitosan. The field tests showed that xanthan gum was effective at controlling soil erosion. However, the chitosan field data was inconsistent with the xanthan data and field data on bare soil.

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2011

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Separating and detecting Escherichia Coli in a microfluidic thannel [i.e., channel] for urinary tract infection (UTI) applications

Description

In this thesis, I present a lab-on-a-chip (LOC) that can separate and detect Escherichia Coli (E. coli) in simulated urine samples for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) diagnosis. The LOC consists of two (concentration and sensing) chambers connected in series and

In this thesis, I present a lab-on-a-chip (LOC) that can separate and detect Escherichia Coli (E. coli) in simulated urine samples for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) diagnosis. The LOC consists of two (concentration and sensing) chambers connected in series and an integrated impedance detector. The two-chamber approach is designed to reduce the non-specific absorption of proteins, e.g. albumin, that potentially co-exist with E. coli in urine. I directly separate E. coli K-12 from a urine cocktail in a concentration chamber containing micro-sized magnetic beads (5 µm in diameter) conjugated with anti-E. coli antibodies. The immobilized E. coli are transferred to a sensing chamber for the impedance measurement. The measurement at the concentration chamber suffers from non-specific absorption of albumin on the gold electrode, which may lead to a false positive response. By contrast, the measured impedance at the sensing chamber shows ~60 kÙ impedance change between 6.4x104 and 6.4x105 CFU/mL, covering the threshold of UTI (105 CFU/mL). The sensitivity of the LOC for detecting E. coli is characterized to be at least 3.4x104 CFU/mL. I also characterized the LOC for different age groups and white blood cell spiked samples. These preliminary data show promising potential for application in portable LOC devices for UTI detection.

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2011

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Fabrication and evaluation of hematite modified granular activated carbon (GAC) media for arsenic removal from groundwater

Description

The goal of the study was twofold: (i) to investigate the synthesis of hematite-impregnated granular activated carbon (Fe-GAC) by hydrolysis of Fe (III) and (ii) to assess the effectiveness of the fabricated media in removal of arsenic from water. Fe-GAC

The goal of the study was twofold: (i) to investigate the synthesis of hematite-impregnated granular activated carbon (Fe-GAC) by hydrolysis of Fe (III) and (ii) to assess the effectiveness of the fabricated media in removal of arsenic from water. Fe-GAC was synthesized by hydrolysis of Fe(III) salts under two Fe (III) initial dosages (0.5M and 2M) and two hydrolysis periods (24 hrs and 72 hrs). The iron content of the fabricated Fe-GAC media ranged from 0.9% to 4.4% Fe/g of the dry media. Pseudo-equilibrium batch test data at pH = 7.7±0.2 in 1mM NaHCO3 buffered ultrapure water and challenge groundwater representative of the Arizona Mexico border region were fitted to a Freundlich isotherm model. The findings suggested that the arsenic adsorption capacity of the metal (hydr)oxide modified GAC media is primarily controlled by the surface area of the media, while the metal content exhibited lesser effect. The adsorption capacity of the media in the model Mexican groundwater matrix was significantly lower for all adsorbent media. Continuous flow short bed adsorber tests (SBA) demonstrated that the adsorption capacity for arsenic in the challenge groundwater was reduced by a factor of 3 to 4 as a result of the mass transport effects. When compared on metal basis, the iron (hydr)oxide modified media performed comparably well as existing commercial media for treatment of arsenic. On dry mass basis, the fabricated media in this study removed less arsenic than their commercial counterparts because the metal content of the commercial media was significantly higher.

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2011

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Toxicity study in Alzheimer's disease cell model

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, affecting one in nine people age 65 and older. One of the most important neuropathological characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is the aggregation and deposition of the protein beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, affecting one in nine people age 65 and older. One of the most important neuropathological characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is the aggregation and deposition of the protein beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is produced by proteolytic processing of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Production of beta-amyloid from APP is increased when cells are subject to stress since both APP and beta-secretase are upregulated by stress. An increased beta-amyloid level promotes aggregation of beta-amyloid into toxic species which cause an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a decrease in cell viability. Therefore reducing beta-amyloid generation is a promising method to control cell damage following stress. The goal of this thesis was to test the effect of inhibiting beta-amyloid production inside stressed AD cell model. Hydrogen peroxide was used as stressing agent. Two treatments were used to inhibit beta-amyloid production, including iBSec1, an scFv designed to block beta-secretase site of APP, and DIA10D, a bispecific tandem scFv engineered to cleave alpha-secretase site of APP and block beta-secretase site of APP. iBSec1 treatment was added extracellularly while DIA10D was stably expressed inside cell using PSECTAG vector. Increase in reactive oxygen species and decrease in cell viability were observed after addition of hydrogen peroxide to AD cell model. The increase in stress induced toxicity caused by addition of hydrogen peroxide was dramatically decreased by simultaneously treating the cells with iBSec1 or DIA10D to block the increase in beta-amyloid levels resulting from the upregulation of APP and beta-secretase.

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2014

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Contaminants of emerging concern in U.S. sewage sludges and forecasting of associated ecological and human health risks using sewage epidemiology approaches

Description

Many manmade chemicals used in consumer products are ultimately washed down the drain and are collected in municipal sewers. Efficient chemical monitoring at wastewater treatment (WWT) plants thus may provide up-to-date information on chemical usage rates for epidemiological assessments. The

Many manmade chemicals used in consumer products are ultimately washed down the drain and are collected in municipal sewers. Efficient chemical monitoring at wastewater treatment (WWT) plants thus may provide up-to-date information on chemical usage rates for epidemiological assessments. The objective of the present study was to extrapolate this concept, termed 'sewage epidemiology', to include municipal sewage sludge (MSS) in identifying and prioritizing contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). To test this the following specific aims were defined: i) to screen and identify CECs in nationally representative samples of MSS and to provide nationwide inventories of CECs in U.S. MSS; ii) to investigate the fate and persistence in MSS-amended soils, of sludge-borne hydrophobic CECs; and iii) to develop an analytical tool relying on contaminant levels in MSS as an indicator for identifying and prioritizing hydrophobic CECs. Chemicals that are primarily discharged to the sewage systems (alkylphenol surfactants) and widespread persistent organohalogen pollutants (perfluorochemicals and brominated flame retardants) were analyzed in nationally representative MSS samples. A meta-analysis showed that CECs contribute about 0.04-0.15% to the total dry mass of MSS, a mass equivalent of 2,700-7,900 metric tonnes of chemicals annually. An analysis of archived mesocoms from a sludge weathering study showed that 64 CECs persisted in MSS/soil mixtures over the course of the experiment, with half-lives ranging between 224 and >990 days; these results suggest an inherent persistence of CECs that accumulate in MSS. A comparison of the spectrum of chemicals (n=52) analyzed in nationally representative biological specimens from humans and MSS revealed 70% overlap. This observed co-occurrence of contaminants in both matrices suggests that MSS may serve as an indicator for ongoing human exposures and body burdens of pollutants in humans. In conclusion, I posit that this novel approach in sewage epidemiology may serve to pre-screen and prioritize the several thousands of known or suspected CECs to identify those that are most prone to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

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2013

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Single cell RT-qPCR based ocean environmental sensing device development

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This thesis research focuses on developing a single-cell gene expression analysis method for marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and constructing a chip level tool to realize the single cell RT-qPCR analysis. This chip will serve as a conceptual foundation for future

This thesis research focuses on developing a single-cell gene expression analysis method for marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and constructing a chip level tool to realize the single cell RT-qPCR analysis. This chip will serve as a conceptual foundation for future deployable ocean monitoring systems. T. pseudonana, which is a common surface water microorganism, was detected in the deep ocean as confirmed by phylogenetic and microbial community functional studies. Six-fold copy number differences between 23S rRNA and 23S rDNA were observed by RT-qPCR, demonstrating the moderate functional activity of detected photosynthetic microbes in the deep ocean including T. pseudonana. Because of the ubiquity of T. pseudonana, it is a good candidate for an early warning system for ocean environmental perturbation monitoring. This early warning system will depend on identifying outlier gene expression at the single-cell level. An early warning system based on single-cell analysis is expected to detect environmental perturbations earlier than population level analysis which can only be observed after a whole community has reacted. Preliminary work using tube-based, two-step RT-qPCR revealed for the first time, gene expression heterogeneity of T. pseudonana under different nutrient conditions. Heterogeneity was revealed by different gene expression activity for individual cells under the same conditions. This single cell analysis showed a skewed, lognormal distribution and helped to find outlier cells. The results indicate that the geometric average becomes more important and representative of the whole population than the arithmetic average. This is in contrast with population level analysis which is limited to arithmetic averages only and highlights the value of single cell analysis. In order to develop a deployable sensor in the ocean, a chip level device was constructed. The chip contains surface-adhering droplets, defined by hydrophilic patterning, that serve as real-time PCR reaction chambers when they are immersed in oil. The chip had demonstrated sensitivities at the single cell level for both DNA and RNA. The successful rate of these chip-based reactions was around 85%. The sensitivity of the chip was equivalent to published microfluidic devices with complicated designs and protocols, but the production process of the chip was simple and the materials were all easily accessible in conventional environmental and/or biology laboratories. On-chip tests provided heterogeneity information about the whole population and were validated by comparing with conventional tube based methods and by p-values analysis. The power of chip-based single-cell analyses were mainly between 65-90% which were acceptable and can be further increased by higher throughput devices. With this chip and single-cell analysis approaches, a new paradigm for robust early warning systems of ocean environmental perturbation is possible.

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Date Created
2013

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Fast, variable system delay correction for spiral MRI

Description

Magnetic Resonance Imaging using spiral trajectories has many advantages in speed, efficiency in data-acquistion and robustness to motion and flow related artifacts. The increase in sampling speed, however, requires high performance of the gradient system. Hardware inaccuracies from system delays

Magnetic Resonance Imaging using spiral trajectories has many advantages in speed, efficiency in data-acquistion and robustness to motion and flow related artifacts. The increase in sampling speed, however, requires high performance of the gradient system. Hardware inaccuracies from system delays and eddy currents can cause spatial and temporal distortions in the encoding gradient waveforms. This causes sampling discrepancies between the actual and the ideal k-space trajectory. Reconstruction assuming an ideal trajectory can result in shading and blurring artifacts in spiral images. Current methods to estimate such hardware errors require many modifications to the pulse sequence, phantom measurements or specialized hardware. This work presents a new method to estimate time-varying system delays for spiral-based trajectories. It requires a minor modification of a conventional stack-of-spirals sequence and analyzes data collected on three orthogonal cylinders. The method is fast, robust to off-resonance effects, requires no phantom measurements or specialized hardware and estimate variable system delays for the three gradient channels over the data-sampling period. The initial results are presented for acquired phantom and in-vivo data, which show a substantial reduction in the artifacts and improvement in the image quality.

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2013

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Coronary artery plaque assessment with fast switched dual energy X-ray computed tomography angiography

Description

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) has a high negative predictive value for ruling out coronary artery disease with non-invasive evaluation of the coronary arteries. My work has attempted to provide metrics that could increase the positive predictive value of coronary

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) has a high negative predictive value for ruling out coronary artery disease with non-invasive evaluation of the coronary arteries. My work has attempted to provide metrics that could increase the positive predictive value of coronary CTA through the use of dual energy CTA imaging. After developing an algorithm for obtaining calcium scores from a CTA exam, a dual energy CTA exam was performed on patients at dose levels equivalent to levels for single energy CTA with a calcium scoring exam. Calcium Agatston scores obtained from the dual energy CTA exam were within ±11% of scores obtained with conventional calcium scoring exams. In the presence of highly attenuating coronary calcium plaques, the virtual non-calcium images obtained with dual energy CTA were able to successfully measure percent coronary stenosis within 5% of known stenosis values, which is not possible with single energy CTA images due to the presence of the calcium blooming artifact. After fabricating an anthropomorphic beating heart phantom with coronary plaques, characterization of soft plaque vulnerability to rupture or erosion was demonstrated with measurements of the distance from soft plaque to aortic ostium, percent stenosis, and percent lipid volume in soft plaque. A classification model was developed, with training data from the beating heart phantom and plaques, which utilized support vector machines to classify coronary soft plaque pixels as lipid or fibrous. Lipid versus fibrous classification with single energy CTA images exhibited a 17% error while dual energy CTA images in the classification model developed here only exhibited a 4% error. Combining the calcium blooming correction and the percent lipid volume methods developed in this work will provide physicians with metrics for increasing the positive predictive value of coronary CTA as well as expanding the use of coronary CTA to patients with highly attenuating calcium plaques.

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2013