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Title: Engineering human neural networks : controlling cell patterning and connectivity
Author: Waller, Sharlayne Tatyana
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 2401
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Restorative treatments for diseases affecting the central nervous system (CNS) are difficult to develop, due to the complexity of CNS tissues and transferability issues with results from costly animal models. There is an urgent need to produce reliable, complex culture models to develop effective treatments. Such models require controlled interfaces and relevant dense neural cultures. In this thesis, techniques are developed to prepare and investigate scaffolds enabling complex structured neural model fabrication. To facilitate development of an interface layer, neural culture on polycarbonate track-etched membranes demonstrated that the growth of neural processes through pores required confluent cultures. To direct low density cultures, funnel-shaped pores were machined into glass coverslips, and neurite interaction with angled pore edges was analysed. Live-imaging results showed that neurites more often crossed shallower edges, and retreated from steeper edges. Concerning development of dense cultures, neural culture in non-granular hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels showed cell clustering and reduced neurite extension. A protocol adding secondary structure to the scaffold by granulating HA hydrogel was optimized, and cell viability and connectivity within the hydrogel were analysed. Cell viability in the granular hydrogel was comparable to the control, and there was improvement of network connectivity in granular hydrogels over non-granular counterparts. Potential application to improve nerve graft technology motivated the design of an extrusion device that generates tertiary structure by interspersing cell-seeded and unseeded granular HA hydrogel, facilitating control of cell distribution and alignment within the scaffold. Tertiary extruded and non-extruded hydrogels were analysed, and distribution was maintained within the tertiary extruded hydrogel scaffold, without detriment to the cell functionality. It is hypothesized that additional guidance cues could be added to the scaffolds to control cellular alignment. Findings demonstrate the fabrication of structured scaffolds optimized for neural network growth, and highlight strategies that can be used in the production of in vitro neural models for complex CNS study.
Supervisor: Ye, Hua Sponsor: China Regenerative Medecine International Limited
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available