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Engineering a 3D Hydrogel Model for Studying Myelination in the Central Nervous System

Presenters Name: 
Emily Zezas
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Steven Caliari
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Deniz Unal
11:00 - 12:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 11:00am to 12:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) that results in the demyelination and degeneration of axons. This damage inhibits communication between neurons and can lead to irreversible neurological dysfunction. We are working to create a 3D methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) hydrogel model for CNS myelination and demyelination that will aid the development of therapeutic options for disorders such as MS. To do so, we are first focusing on using 2D hydrogels to explore the relationship between hydrogel stiffness and cell viability, as it is important that the stiffness of the gels matches that of the CNS. Rheology studies are performed to analyze gel stiffness and determine the optimal MeHA weight percentage. After this is determined, cells are seeded onto the gels to study cell viability and proliferation. MADM cells are initially used, as they are a more accessible, albeit less accurate alternative to the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) present in the CNS. In the future, primary OPCs will be harvested from postnatal rats and inserted into the gels using the more resource-intensive process of immunopanning. Once 3D studies commence, artificial MeHA fibers, created by electrospinning, will be incorporated into the hydrogels. This will allow us to study the effects of fiber diameter on myelination, as artificial fibers provide the mechanical cues necessary for myelination to occur. This work could provide a new method of treatment for individuals with diseases of the CNS, and would supplement the current, limited, immunomodulatory treatment options for diseases like MS.