BROWN UNIVERSITY IN PROVIDENCE IN STATE OF RI AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5)."
PI: Webster, Thomas
Proposal Number: 0730906
Novel materials are needed to restore functions to persons with disabilities since current materials have not sufficed. Nanotechnology, broadly defined as the use of materials with at least one dimension less than 100 nm (so called nanophase materials), have begun to revolutionize the fields of science and engineering; but as of yet, medical applications have not yet widely benefited from the use of nanomaterials. In particular, despite promise, one particular nanomaterial (carbon nanotubes) holds much promise to heal damaged neural tissue and restore functions to disabled persons. Carbon nanotubes coupled with stem cells are intriguing nanomaterials to heal damaged neural tissue due to their ability to: (i) conduct electricity when implanted into damaged, non-conductive, regions of the brain, (ii) mimic the nanometer features of key proteins found in neural tissue (such as laminin) to favor stem cell differentiation, increase neuron functions and decrease glial scar tissue formation, and (iii) anchor stem cells into damaged regions of the brain to inhibit stem cells from migrating away from the part of the brain in which they are needed most.
This proposal will investigate the ability of carbon nanotubes to deliver, anchor, and promote stem cell differentiation into neurons to heal and reestablish electrical conductivity in damaged neural tissue; critical criteria to return motor functions to disabled persons. Thus, the specific aims of this study are to: (i) determine carbon nanotube chemical functionalization strategies that promote stem cell adhesion and differentiation into neurons, (ii) conduct in vitro analysis to determine the best carbon nanotube functionalization strategies that promote stem cell differentiation into neurons while at the same time decrease glial scar tissue cell function, and (iii) determine the ability of the best carbon nanotube functionalization strategies found through in vitro assays to heal stroke-induced neural tissue damage in a well-established rat transient cerebral ischemia model.
This intellectual merit of this proposal is that it will take a bold step to formulate nanotechnology-derived materials that can anchor and stimulate stem cell differentiation into neurons to heal damaged neural tissue and restore function to disabled persons.
The broad impacts of this proposal is that it will motivate K-12, undergraduate and graduate minority students to learn how nanotechnology is being used to treat various illnesses. This will be done by incorporating undergraduate and graduate students from this proposal into: i) a newly awarded G, K ? 12 site at Brown University (which places Brown students into minority Providence public schools to motive learners to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)); ii) the Brain Science Program at Brown (which has numerous outreach activities); and (iii) the NSF funded MRSEC site at Brown University (which incorporates numerous undergraduates through REU sites). This proposal also has a strong international collaboration through the cooperation of the consultant from Yonsei University in which numerous students and ideas will be exchanged to strengthen educational aspects of nanotechnology in medicine at respective institutions.