Investigation of the Potential Benefits of Dermal Hydrogels to Promote Angiogenesis into Acellular Dermal Scaffolds; How Social Media Has Changed the Landscape for Women Battling Breast Cancer

Clark, Evan, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Cottler, Patrick, MD-PLSR Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia

Breast cancer is a debilitating disease that has a major impact on the health and lives of millions of women. Surgical treatment for this disease typically consists of a double mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction. The reconstruction of the breast is often conducted using an acellular dermal scaffold that provides support and facilitates new tissue growth. Inflammation following surgery can lead to a lack of intimate contact between the dermal scaffold and the overlying breast tissue, potentially resulting in infection, necrosis, and reconstructive failure. As such, we proposed that the use of a flowable dermal hydrogel alongside a dermal scaffold can help improve contact and ultimately lead to better patient outcomes. A porcine dermal hydrogel was first synthesized and gelation was validated. In vivo murine models of breast reconstruction were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the dermal hydrogel at improving vascularisation and cellular infiltration into the scaffold. Two groups were utilized: dermal scaffold and dermal scaffold with flowable hydrogel. Histological and flow cytometry analysis results showed the hydrogel promoted increased angiogenesis, vascular maturity, and decreased fibrosis in the dermal scaffold. Results also showed that these benefits may be delayed and take longer to manifest than when a hydrogel is not present. It is also vitally important to investigate the social impact breast cancer can have on these patients. A major change to the landscape for these women is the introduction and increased prevalence of social media. Social media can provide valuable information on the disease, social support, and increase funding for research. There are also major negative effects as well, such as the spreading of misinformation and fraudulent fundraising groups. Together these works investigate and attempt to help alleviate some of the many issues faced by women with breast cancer.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Breast reconstruction, Hydrogel, Dermal Scaffold, Microvasculature
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