Master’s Thesis Research: Drug-Delivery Nerve Conduit
This drug-delivery nerve conduit is aimed at enhancing peripheral nerve regeneration. Peripheral nerve injuries affect 2-3% of trauma patients and vastly more subsequent to tumor extirpation or iatrogenic injury. These injuries can result in chronic debilitating pain from crush or neuroma formation. Patients often suffer from life-long loss or functional disturbances mediated by the injured nerve, which can severely diminish their quality of life. Nerve injuries have a tremendous socioeconomic impact from loss of work and healthcare costs. Nerve lesions caused by trauma, tumor or inflammatory processes often require the removal of the injured segment of nerve and subsequent repair either by tension free end-to-end neurorrhaphy or by bridging the gap with autologous nerve grafts or nerve conduits.
My project will focus on creating manufacturing techniques for the PLGA (poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid) nerve conduit devices that are precise and produce repeatable results. The device will act as a conduit to directionally guide axon growth. It will also function a reservoir for NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) and properly deliver the drug to the desired sites.
The Mechanical Leech is a medical replacement for biological leeches, providing the necessary venous congestion relief that is needed for leech therapy. Live leeches are currently used during post-surgical skin graft procedures to remove pooling blood at the surgical sites.
Leech therapy is the practice of introducing leeches onto reattached tissue post-surgery to relieve venous congestion in the region. The primary function of the leech is to prevent the pooling of blood and reduce pressure in areas where arterial blood flow is adequate to supply blood but the venous blood flow is insufficient to remove it. This gives the body time to form new veins to handle the return blood flow. The leeching process accomplished naturally through the feeding process of leeches that create a small incision, secrete an anticoagulant, and remove the excess fluid.
In addition to eliminating a patient’s repulsion of biological leeches, the Mechanical Leech will provide more consistent, controllable performance over its parasitic counterpart, making it more desirable to doctors and surgeons to use during therapy.
Biofilm Reactor for Host-Pathogen InteractionThis project covers the design, manufacturing, and testing of a Biofilm Reactor to assist with host-pathogen interaction research. This medical research device will facilitate an in-vitro environment for epithelial cells and bacteria to be grown separately but simultaneously. The reactor consists of a base that creates a growth environment by providing growth nutrients and controlled air to the system. A first insert will contain the epithelial cells, and a second insert will sit above it with the bacteria of interest to allow the cells and pathogens to interact. These semi-permeable inserts allow the bacteria and cells to be grown in a semi-isolated environment that prevents infection of the cells while still being able to sustain the host-pathogen interaction desired. The cell cultures grown in this reactor will be used to study host-pathogen interactions and how diseases affect the human body.
I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT and am currently pursuing a combined B.S./M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah. #JazzNation