ECM Hydrogel Derived From Decellularized Adipose Tissue for Adipose Derived Stem Cell Differentiation to Augment Breast Reconstruction; Evaluating The Sociotechnical Factors Behind Racial and Ethnic Differences in Utilization of Breast Reconstruction Services Post Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA)

Nguyen, Nhut Vy, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Cottler, Patrick, MD-PLSR Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia
Wayland, Kent, Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

A woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer at some point in her life. Consequently, 100,000 U.S. women each year require a mastectomy, the surgical removal of one or both breasts, to achieve adequate locoregional disease control. Better prognosis and a decline in breast cancer mortality rates over the years have shifted the focus from the treatment of breast cancer to post-mastectomy care. From 2009 to 2014, the rate of breast reconstruction post-mastectomy for women ages 18 years and older increased by 62%. The increasing trends have led to greater demands for safer and more optimized procedures for breast reconstruction, an important process in many breast cancer patients’ healing journeys. Improved postoperative quality of life is a goal of many breast reconstruction techniques, both physically and psychologically. As a result, both the technical and the science, technology, and society (STS) project of the study aims to answer the overarching question: how can the quality of life for recipients of breast reconstruction be improved and sustained?
The results from the technical and STS project were significant, especially for future work in the field. For the hDAT ECM hydrogel, future work includes an in vivo mouse model using irradiated mice to mimic breast cancer treatment conditions to test for adipogenesis, immune response, and integration into host tissue. The characterization of the hydrogel can be improved by including mechanical testing for Young’s modulus to observe how stiffness affects ADSC differentiation into adipocytes. Regarding the STS exploration of the WCHRA, the policy review can inform future legislation or reform efforts on the underlying reasons behind why there is such a difference in receipt of breast reconstruction and potential ways to address and reduce such differences. The findings from both projects would address current limitations to breast reconstruction and provide sustained long-term outcomes to ensure a good quality of life for patients who receive it.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
ECM Hydrogel, Adipose-Derived Stem Cells, Breast Reconstruction, Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Patrick Cottler

STS Advisor: Kent Wayland

Technical Team Members: Andrea C. Kian, Olivia G. Marquis

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