Encapsulation of Cells Within Microporous Annealed Particle (MAP) Scaffold For a Tissue Engineered Brain Tumor Microenvironment; In the Outhouse: The Misunderstanding of Tissue Engineering

Greenfield, Lucy, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Griffin, Donald, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Tissue engineering shows great potential to improve individualized medicine and result in better treatments. The technical work aimed to engineer a glioblastoma tumor microenvironment model. A goal of the system was to be ‘plug-and-play,’ meaning those with less experience with engineered tissue could implement it. Clear communication is vital for regenerative medicine applications to be successful, motivating the STS research. The STS work used the polio vaccine campaigns as a case study of a successful healthcare product being adopted by the general public in order to provide insight for the field of tissue engineering. The tight coupling of the STS and technical projects allowed for aspects from both to inform the research of the other; understanding the most effective forms of communication will improve accessibility to engineered tissue applications and overall healthcare.
The technical project sought to create a system that could potentially be used to test novel treatments in the future and improve the outcomes for one of the deadliest cancers. Microporous annealed particle (MAP) scaffold was used, which has been shown to be highly manipulatable and able to accurately recapitulate native tissue behavior. By encapsulating both neural and tumor cells within this scaffold, the interactions between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue could be observed and tumorigenesis could be better understood. The overall goal of the project was to optimize the encapsulation process to create a system that could be implemented by other scientists and increase collaboration in glioblastoma research. The main challenge in the technical work was maintaining cell viability once encapsulation had occurred. A series of parameters in both the encapsulation and the purification processes were tested to investigate which factors could be affecting viability. It was found that reducing the cells’ exposure to fluorinated oil in each of these processes improved viability, and that higher cell concentrations improved long-term viability. Due to these hurdles and time constraints, co-cultured neural and tumor cells were not used in any encapsulations, and cell behavior and mechanics were not investigated. The technical work improved the general encapsulation process, but it did not optimize the process for glioblastoma modeling, which remains an objective for future work. The STS research sought to understand the effect of scientific communication on the direction of progress of tissue engineering. While regenerative medicine has brought about the possibility of individualized medicine, the insular nature of the conversation has prevented the technology from being fully accepted. Clear communication, deep collaboration and constant reflection and adaptation are necessary for a novel product to be successful in the field of healthcare. The polio vaccine campaigns in the twentieth century were used as a case study to investigate strong scientific communication. Actor Network Theory was used to frame and compare the polio vaccine case study and regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering first appeared in scientific literature in the 1980s was first brought to the public eye in the 1990s, but the only engineered tissues currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration are skin substitutes. There are questions by those outside the field about individual and societal harm, privacy and control, and overall patient well-being; these questions have only increased ever since regenerative medicine came about. The polio vaccine was unknown to the public prior to government efforts to use trusted figures and local leaders, active surveillance, and great collaboration among various organizations. What was once one of the most feared viruses was nearly eradicated. Although there are clearly many differences between the polio vaccine campaigns and the tissue engineering debates, the case study can still provide insight into how to improve public confidence and adoption of new healthcare technology. While it is essential to investigate pressing issues using scientific research, the communication and reflection of this research is just as, if not more important to implement the most practical solutions.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Actor Network Theory, Tissue Engineering, Polio, Glioblastoma

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Donald Griffin
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Zoe Apsel

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