• Development of Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogels for Neural Stem Cell Engineering

      Suh, Won H.; Marcinkiewicz, Cezary; Lelkes, Peter I.; Lazarovici, Philip (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)
      In this work, a hydrogel made from hyaluronic acid is synthesized and utilized to study neural stem cell behavior within a custom tailored three dimensional microenvironment. The physical properties of the hydrogel have been optimized to create an environment conducive for neural stem cell differentiation by mimicking the native brain extracellular matrix (ECM) environment. The physical properties characterized include degree of methacrylation, swelling ratios, enzymatic degradation rates, and viscoelastic moduli. One dimensional proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1HNMR) confirms modification of the hyaluronic acid polymers, and is used to quantify the degree of methacrylation. Rheological measurements are made to quantify the viscoelastic moduli. Further post-processing by lyophilization leads to generation of large voids to facilitate re-swelling and cell infiltration. ReNcell VM (RVM), and adult human neural stem cell line derived from the ventral mesencephalon, are cultured and differentiated inside the hydrogel for up to 2 weeks. Differentiation is characterized by immunocytochemistry (ICC) and real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).
    • Engineered Biomaterials for Human Neural Stem Cell Applications

      Suh, Won H.; Lelkes, Peter I.; Pleshko, Nancy; Hu, Wenhui (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      Within the last decade, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have emerged as one of the top 5 leading causes of death globally, and there is currently no cure. All neurodegenerative diseases lead to loss of the functional cells in the nervous system, the neurons. One therapeutic approach is to replace the damaged and lost neurons with new, healthy neurons. Unfortunately, this is a difficult endeavor since mature neurons are not capable of cell division. Instead, researchers are turning to neural stem cells, which are able to self-renew and be rapidly expanded before being differentiated into functional cell phenotypes, such as neurons, allowing for large numbers of cells to be generated in vitro. Controlled differentiation of human neural stem cells into new neurons has been of interest due to the immense potential for improving clinical outcomes. Adult neural stem cell behavior, however, is not well understood and the transplanted stem cells are at risk for tumorigenesis. The focus of this dissertation is the development of engineered biomaterials as tools to study human neural stem cell behavior and neurogenesis (differentiation). A novel cell penetrating peptide was developed to enhance intracellular delivery of retinoic acid, a bioactive lipid known to induce differentiation. A hydrogel platform fabricated from hyaluronic acid, a naturally-occurring polysaccharide found in brain extracellular space, was designed to serve as a biomimetic soft substrate with similar mechanical properties to the brain. The biological behavior of the stem cells was characterized in response to chemical and physical cues.