Mentors: Katrina Wilson, Tatiana Segura, Ph.D.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University
Ischemic strokes account for 87% of strokes worldwide and occur when a blood clot obstructs blood flow to the brain, causing subsequent death of tissue and resulting in long-term disability. Current treatments must be quickly administered after the stroke onset to be effective, resulting in only 5% of patients finding treatments helpful. Therefore, alternative treatments and therapies are highly sought after/would be helpful. One alternative is the use of hydrogels for cellular regrowth. Microporous Annealed Particles (MAP) gels—porous hydrogels that are injected into the stroke infarct—can be used long after the stroke onset to reduce brain inflammation and promote angiogenesis and neurogenesis. In this study, photothrombotic strokes were administered to mice, and MAP hydrogels were injected in the stroke infarct to test the impact of the hydrogels to repair damaged brain tissue. Brain samples were acquired and analyzed, and previous results suggest reduced brain inflammation, a thinner glial scar separating the stroke tissue from healthy tissue, and the recruitment of neural progenitor cells. Further research would involve testing different hydrogel compositions, such as the addition of growth factors, variations in nanoparticle concentrations, and gel porosity.