NIH grant helps researchers develop new ways to study eye's repair mechanisms
Cells called corneal keratocytes are innately programmed to come to the rescue if the eye is injured. This natural healing process sometimes fails, however, resulting in scarring and blindness. Scientists are still trying to understand why.
New research by University of Texas at Dallas bioengineer Dr. David Schmidtke aims to help solve that mystery. Schmidtke and his team have demonstrated a technique in the lab for fabricating tiny strands of collagen called fibrils to facilitate further research on the eye's repair process. The method was detailed in a new study published in the December issue of the journal Biomedical Microdevices.
The study was funded in part by a $1.8 million, five-year National Institutes of Health grant that Schmidtke received last summer to develop new ways to study the eye's healing mechanisms -- knowledge that may lead to new therapies and treatments.
"How keratocytes repair tissue and why, in some cases, they leave scar tissue, is not well understood," said Schmidtke, professor of bioengineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. "We came up with a way to mimic an injury model, so we can look at how the cells respond when there is a wound."
Dr. Matthew Petroll, professor of ophthalmology and chair of the biomedical engineering graduate program at UT Southwestern Medical Center, initially approached Schmidtke for help in finding a new way to study how the patterning and topography of fibrils can influence corneal cell behavior. These threadlike structures are arranged in a crisscross pattern in the eye and serve as a path to guide keratocytes to an injury.
The UT Dallas research draws on Schmidtke's expertise in microfluidic devices, which are palm-sized pieces of transparent plastic that contain small channels about the size of a strand of human hair. He is using these devices to fabricate the fibrils. Schmidtke's research team, which includes undergraduate and graduate students, injects collagen into the channels. The collagen polymerizes as it flows through the channels, resulting in aligned fibrils that are similar in structure to the collagen fibrils that are present in corneal tissue.
Schmidtke is working with Dr. Victor Varner, assistant professor of bioengineering at UT Dallas, who is focusing on how keratocytes sense the level of stiffness or softness in the fibrils with which they interact. The researchers plan to study how fibrils' density, elasticity and dimensionality affect keratocytes. For example, keratocytes behave differently on aligned collagen fibrils compared to randomly oriented collagen fibrils, Schmidtke said.
The research could help develop therapies to reduce corneal scarring and guide efforts to engineer tissue replacements. The models also could be used in other fields where researchers need to study cell patterning and behavior. Schmidtke conducts his research at UT Dallas and in lab space at UT Southwestern.
"The collaboration with UT Southwestern, and having research lab space there, has been a big benefit to applying engineering tools to biomedical questions," he said.
Other authors of the study include Petroll and Varner, UT Dallas biomedical engineering doctoral student Kevin H. Lam, and UT Southwestern doctoral students Pouriska B. Kivanany and Kyle Grose, and postdoctoral research associates Dr. Nihan Yonet-Tanyeri and Dr. Nesreen Alsmadi.
In addition to NIH funding, the research was supported by grants from the Office of the Vice President for Research at UT Dallas, the UT Southwestern Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine, the UT Southwestern George M. O'Brien Kidney Research Core Center and the nonprofit organization Research to Prevent Blindness.
Media Relations UT Dallas | EurekAlert!
Scientists examine how a gut infection may produce chronic symptoms
13.01.2020 | Rockefeller University
Deep learning, 3D technology to improve structure modeling, create better drugs
10.01.2020 | Purdue University
Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keep them alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.
Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only a few hours. With the novel perfusion technology, livers - and even injured livers - can now...
A balloon-borne scientific instrument designed to study the origin of cosmic rays is taking its second turn high above the continent of Antarctica three and a half weeks after its launch.
SuperTIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) is designed to measure the rare, heavy elements in cosmic rays that hold clues about their origins...
One last time on Earth it has been turned on in France in December 2019. The next time the MOMA laser developed by the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is going into operation will be on Mars. The ExoMars rover into which the laser is integrated has now successfully passed the thermal vacuum tests at Airbus in Toulouse, France.
For 18 days the ExoMars rover Rosalind Franklin was subjected to thermal vacuum tests at Airbus. There, it had to withstand strong changes in temperature and...
The Atacama Desert in Chile is the oldest and most arid desert on earth. Organisms living in this area have adapted to the extreme conditions over thousands of years. A research team led by Dr Patrick Jung has now discovered and investigated a previously unknown biocoenosis of lichens, fungi, cyanobacteria and algae. It colonises tiny stones, so-called grit and its need for water is satisfied by fog and dew. These organisms also decompose the rock on and in which they live. The scientists believe that this is how they have shaped the landscape of the Atacama Desert. Their study was published in the renowned scientific journal "Gebiology".
Many desert areas have large black spots in the sand. These spots are mineral deposits, so-called desert varnish. In the Atacama Desert, which can be compared...
For the first time, physicists from the University of Würzburg have successfully converted electrical signals into photons and radiated them in specific directions using a low-footprint optical antenna that is only 800 nanometres in size.
Directional antennas convert electrical signals to radio waves and emit them in a particular direction, allowing increased performance and reduced...
07.01.2020 | Event News
19.12.2019 | Event News
03.12.2019 | Event News
14.01.2020 | Life Sciences
13.01.2020 | Physics and Astronomy
13.01.2020 | Life Sciences