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Structure-function study of N-isopropylacrylamide copolymers with enzyme degradable GAPGLF and GAPGLL side chains

Description

With an increased demand for more enzyme-sensitive, bioresorbable and more biodegradable polymers, various studies of copolymers have been developed. Polymers are widely used in various applications of biomedical engineering such as in tissue engineering, drug delivery and wound healing. Depending

With an increased demand for more enzyme-sensitive, bioresorbable and more biodegradable polymers, various studies of copolymers have been developed. Polymers are widely used in various applications of biomedical engineering such as in tissue engineering, drug delivery and wound healing. Depending on the conditions in which polymers are used, they are modified to accommodate a specific need. For instance, polymers used in drug delivery are more efficient if they are biodegradable. This ensures that the delivery system does not remain in the body after releasing the drug. It is therefore crucial that the polymer used in the drug system possess biodegradable properties. Such modification can be done in different ways including the use of peptides to make copolymers that will degrade in the presence of enzymes. In this work, we studied the effect of a polypeptide GAPGLL on the polymer NIPAAm and compare with the previously studied Poly(NIPAAm-co-GAPGLF). Both copolymers Poly(NIPAAm-co-GAPGLL) were first synthesized from Poly(NIPAAm-co-NASI) through nucleophilic substitution by the two peptides. The synthesis of these copolymers was confirmed by 1H NMR spectra and through cloud point measurement, the corresponding LCST was determined. Both copolymers were degraded by collagenase enzyme at 25 ° C and their 1H NMR spectra confirmed this process. Both copolymers were cleaved by collagenase, leading to an increase in solubility which yielded a higher LCST compared to before enzyme degradation. Future studies will focus on evaluating other peptides and also using other techniques such as Differential Scanning Microcalorimetry (DSC) to better observe the LCST behavior. Moreover, enzyme kinetics studies is also crucial to evaluate how fast the enzyme degrades each of the copolymers.

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2018-05

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Can Startle Elicit Sequential Movements in Highly Trained Individuals?

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Most daily living tasks consist of pairing a series of sequential movements, e.g., reaching to a cup, grabbing the cup, lifting and returning the cup to your mouth. The process by which we control and mediate the smooth progression of

Most daily living tasks consist of pairing a series of sequential movements, e.g., reaching to a cup, grabbing the cup, lifting and returning the cup to your mouth. The process by which we control and mediate the smooth progression of these tasks is not well understood. One method which we can use to further evaluate these motions is known as Startle Evoked Movements (SEM). SEM is an established technique to probe the motor learning and planning processes by detecting muscle activation of the sternocleidomastoid muscles of the neck prior to 120ms after a startling stimulus is presented. If activation of these muscles was detected following a stimulus in the 120ms window, the movement is classified as Startle+ whereas if no sternocleidomastoid activation is detected after a stimulus in the allotted time the movement is considered Startle-. For a movement to be considered SEM, the activation of movements for Startle+ trials must be faster than the activation of Startle- trials. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect that expertise has on sequential movements as well as determining if startle can distinguish when the consolidation of actions, known as chunking, has occurred. We hypothesized that SEM could distinguish words that were solidified or chunked. Specifically, SEM would be present when expert typists were asked to type a common word but not during uncommon letter combinations. The results from this study indicated that the only word that was susceptible to SEM, where Startle+ trials were initiated faster than Startle-, was an uncommon task "HET" while the common words "AND" and "THE" were not. Additionally, the evaluation of the differences between each keystroke for common and uncommon words showed that Startle was unable to distinguish differences in motor chunking between Startle+ and Startle- trials. Explanations into why these results were observed could be related to hand dominance in expert typists. No proper research has been conducted to evaluate the susceptibility of the non-dominant hand's fingers to SEM, and the results of future studies into this as well as the results from this study can impact our understanding of sequential movements.

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2018-05

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Advanced biomaterials and microengineering technologies to recapitulate the stepwise process of cancer metastasis

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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally according to the World Health Organization. Although improved treatments and early diagnoses have reduced cancer related mortalities, metastatic disease remains a major clinical challenge. The local tumor microenvironment plays a

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally according to the World Health Organization. Although improved treatments and early diagnoses have reduced cancer related mortalities, metastatic disease remains a major clinical challenge. The local tumor microenvironment plays a significant role in cancer metastasis, where tumor cells respond and adapt to a plethora of biochemical and biophysical signals from stromal cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Due to these complexities, there is a critical need to understand molecular mechanisms underlying cancer metastasis to facilitate the discovery of more effective therapies. In the past few years, the integration of advanced biomaterials and microengineering approaches has initiated the development of innovative platform technologies for cancer research. These technologies enable the creation of biomimetic in vitro models with physiologically relevant (i.e. in vivo-like) characteristics to conduct studies ranging from fundamental cancer biology to high-throughput drug screening. In this review article, we discuss the biological significance of each step of the metastatic cascade and provide a broad overview on recent progress to recapitulate these stages using advanced biomaterials and microengineered technologies. In each section, we will highlight the advantages and shortcomings of each approach and provide our perspectives on future directions.

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2017-05

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Investigating the Effect of a Hyaluronic Acid-Laminin Hydrogel on Inflammation After Traumatic Brain Injury

Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death in individuals under the age of 45, resulting in over 50,000 deaths each year. Over 80,000 TBI patients report long-term deficits consisting of motor or cognitive dysfunctions due to TBI

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death in individuals under the age of 45, resulting in over 50,000 deaths each year. Over 80,000 TBI patients report long-term deficits consisting of motor or cognitive dysfunctions due to TBI pathophysiology. The biochemical secondary injury triggers a harmful inflammatory cascade, gliosis, and astrocyte activation surrounding the injury lesion, and no current treatments exist to alleviate these underlying pathologies. In order to mitigate the negative inflammatory effects of the secondary injury, we created a hydrogel comprised of hyaluronic acid (HA) and laminin, and we hypothesized that the anti-inflammatory properties of HA will decrease astrocyte activation and inflammation after TBI. C57/BL6 mice were subjected to mild-to-moderate CCI. Three days following injury, mice were treated with injection of vehicle or HA-Laminin hydrogel. Mice were sacrificed at three and seven days post injection and analyzed for astrocyte and inflammatory responses. In mice treated with vehicle injections, astrocyte activation was significantly increased at three days post-transplantation in the injured cortex and injury lesion. However, mice treated with the HA-Laminin hydrogel experienced significantly reduced acute astrocyte activation at the injury site three days post transplantation. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in astrocyte activation at seven days post treatment in either group. Although the microglial and macrophage response remains to be investigated, our data suggest that the HA-Laminin hydrogel demonstrates potential for TBI therapeutics targeting inflammation, including acute modulation of the astrocyte, microglia, and macrophage response to TBI.

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2016-05

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Startle can evoke individuated movements of the fingers; implications for neural control

Description

Startle-evoked-movement (SEM), the involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus, has gained significant attention recently for its ability to probe motor planning as well as enhance movement of the upper extremity following stroke. We recently showed that

Startle-evoked-movement (SEM), the involuntary release of a planned movement via a startling stimulus, has gained significant attention recently for its ability to probe motor planning as well as enhance movement of the upper extremity following stroke. We recently showed that hand movements are susceptible to SEM. Interestingly, only coordinated movements of the hand (grasp) but not individuated movements of the finger (finger abduction) were susceptible. It was suggested that this resulted from different neural mechanisms involved in each task; however it is possible this was the result of task familiarity. The objective of this study was to evaluate a more familiar individuated finger movement, typing, to determine if this task was susceptible to SEM. We hypothesized that typing movements will be susceptible to SEM in all fingers. These results indicate that individuated movements of the fingers are susceptible to SEM when the task involves a more familiar task, since the electromyogram (EMG) latency is faster in SCM+ trials compared to SCM- trials. However, the middle finger does not show a difference in terms of the keystroke voltage signal, suggesting the middle finger is less susceptible to SEM. Given that SEM is thought to be mediated by the brainstem, specifically the reticulospinal tract, this suggest that the brainstem may play a role in movements of the distal limb when those movements are very familiar, and the independence of each finger might also have a significant on the effect of SEM. Further research includes understanding SEM in fingers in the stroke population. The implications of this research can impact the way upper extremity rehabilitation is delivered.

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2016-12

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Enhancing CXCR4 expression of hNPCs using Hyaluronic Acid - Laminin Hydrogel: A Potential Treatment for TBI

Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may result in numerous pathologies that cannot currently be mitigated by clinical interventions. Stem cell therapies are widely researched to address TBI-related pathologies with limited success in pre-clinical models due to limitations in transplant survival rates.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may result in numerous pathologies that cannot currently be mitigated by clinical interventions. Stem cell therapies are widely researched to address TBI-related pathologies with limited success in pre-clinical models due to limitations in transplant survival rates. To address this issue, the use of tissue engineered scaffolds as a delivery mechanism has been explored to improve survival and engraftment rates. Previous work with hyaluronic acid \u2014 laminin (HA-Lm) gels found high viability and engraftment rates of mouse fetal derived neural progenitor/stem cells (NPSCs) cultured on the gel. Furthermore, NPSCs exposed to the HA-Lm gels exhibit increased expression of CXCR4, a critical surface receptor that promotes cell migration. We hypothesized that culturing hNPCs on the HA-Lm gel would increase CXCR4 expression, and thus enhance their ability to migrate into sites of tissue damage. In order to test this hypothesis, we designed gel scaffolds with mechanical properties that were optimized to match that of the natural extracellular matrix. A live/dead assay showed that hNPCs preferred the gel with this optimized formulation, compared to a stiffer gel that was used in the CXCR4 expression experiment. We found that there may be increased CXCR4 expression of hNPCs plated on the HA-Lm gel after 24 hours, indicating that HA-Lm gels may provide a valuable scaffold to support viability and migration of hNPCs to the injury site. Future studies aimed at verifying increased CXCR4 expression of hNPCs cultured on HA-Lm gels are necessary to determine if HA-Lm gels can provide a beneficial scaffold for stem cell engraftment therapy for treating TBI.

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2016-05

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Electrically Conductive Hydrogel-Based Topographies for Development of Three Dimensional (3D) Cardiac Tissues

Description

Cardiac tissue engineering is an emerging field that has the potential to regenerate and repair damaged cardiac tissues after myocardial infarction. Numerous studies have introduced hydrogel-based cardiac tissue constructs featuring suitable microenvironments for cell growth along with precise surface topographies

Cardiac tissue engineering is an emerging field that has the potential to regenerate and repair damaged cardiac tissues after myocardial infarction. Numerous studies have introduced hydrogel-based cardiac tissue constructs featuring suitable microenvironments for cell growth along with precise surface topographies for directed cell organization. Despite significant progress, previously developed cardiac tissue constructs have suffered from electrically insulated matrices and low cell retention. To address these drawbacks, we fabricated micropatterned hybrid hydrogel constructs (uniaxial microgrooves with 50 µm with) using a photocrosslinkable gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) hydrogel incorporated with gold nanorods (GNRs). The electrical impedance results revealed a lower impedance in the GelMA-GNR constructs versus the pure GelMA constructs. Superior electrical conductivity of GelMA-GNR hydrogels (due to incorporation of GNRs) enabled the hybrid tissue constructs to be externally stimulated using a pulse generator. Furthermore, GelMA-GNR tissue hydrogels were tested to investigate the biological characteristics of cultured cardiomyocytes. The F-actin fiber analysis results (area coverage and alignment indices) revealed higher directed (uniaxial) cytoskeleton organization of cardiac cells cultured on the GelMA-GNR hydrogel constructs in comparison to pure GelMA. Considerable increase in the coverage area of cardiac-specific markers (sarcomeric α-actinin and connexin 43) were observed on the GelMA-GNR hybrid constructs compared to pure GelMA hydrogels. Despite substantial dissimilarities in cell organization, both pure GelMA and hybrid GelMA-GNR hydrogel constructs provided a suitable microenvironment for synchronous beating of cardiomyocytes.

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2016-05

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Thermo-Responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-Based Polymers for Endovascular Brain Aneurysm Repair

Description

There is an increasing interest in developing thermo-responsive polymers for treating aneurysms. In this thesis project, the potential for poly(NIPAAm-co-JAAm-co-HEMA-Acrylate) (PNJHAc) as a treatment method for brain aneurysms was investigated. Five different batches of polymer were synthesized, purified, lyophilized, and

There is an increasing interest in developing thermo-responsive polymers for treating aneurysms. In this thesis project, the potential for poly(NIPAAm-co-JAAm-co-HEMA-Acrylate) (PNJHAc) as a treatment method for brain aneurysms was investigated. Five different batches of polymer were synthesized, purified, lyophilized, and characterized using nuclear magnetic resonance and cloud point techniques over the course of several months. Two were tested in aneurysm models. Of these five batches, there were two that showed promise as liquid embolic agents for endovascular embolization.

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2020-05

Statistical Modeling of Drug Release from Spherical Surface-Degrading Particle Batch

Description

The goal of this research project is to create a Mathcad template file capable of statistically modelling the effects of mean and standard deviation on a microparticle batch characterized by the log normal distribution model. Such a file can be

The goal of this research project is to create a Mathcad template file capable of statistically modelling the effects of mean and standard deviation on a microparticle batch characterized by the log normal distribution model. Such a file can be applied during manufacturing to explore tolerances and increase cost and time effectiveness. Theoretical data for the time to 60% drug release and the slope and intercept of the log-log plot were collected and subjected to statistical analysis in JMP. Since the scope of this project focuses on microparticle surface degradation drug release with no drug diffusion, the characteristic variables relating to the slope (n = diffusional release exponent) and the intercept (k = kinetic constant) do not directly apply to the distribution model within the scope of the research. However, these variables are useful for analysis when the Mathcad template is applied to other types of drug release models.

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2021-05

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

Description

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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2016-12