Biogelx™ injectable hydrogels are used to locally deliver drugs into the lesion cavity


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Spotlight interview with Alba Guijarro Belmaris

Alba Guijarro Belmaris a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen investigating new therapies for spinal cord injury. Her project focusses on a combinatorial approach, combining the use of novel axon growth-promoting molecules and tissue-engineering biomaterial strategies, thus creating a permissive and encouraging environment for injured spinal nerve processes to regrow. In this interview, she speaks about her research and shares her hands-on experiences working with our Biogelx™ peptide hydrogels products.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Alba Guijarro Belmar, PhD candidate of the University of Aberdeen. I am part of the Aberdeen Spinal Injury Research Team and my project is funded by the International Spinal Research Trust. Part of my project uses Biogelx materials to form injectable hydrogels as a way to locally deliver drugs into the lesion cavity formed after spinal cord injury.

2. What research does you/your lab focus on?

Our lab focuses on biomaterial-based combinatory therapies for spinal cord injury repair. In order to test a suitable biomaterial for spinal cord repair we use in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models of spinal cord injury.

3. Why is it so important to use synthetic 3D Cell Culture materials in your research?

We found synthetic biomaterials are very stable and reproducible which are key features for our research. Synthetic biomaterials also allow to incorporate different motifs to be optimized for the specific requirement.

4. What are the key features of a good hydrogel?

For my project the key features of a good hydrogel are the following: capability to be tuned to the specific stiffness that matches CNS, functionalization with motifs that promote neuronal cells attachment, good degradation profile, self-assembling behaviour and being an injectable hydrogel. As previously mentioned stability and reproducibility are also key factors in our research.

5. How easy is to use Biogelx products (hydrogels/bio-ink)?

I found Biogelx products very easy to handle. The given protocols are very detailed and clear with multiple formation formats available. You just need to weight the required Biogelx powder and mix it with the specific volume of water needed to create the pre-gel solution. You can even incorporate different drugs or cells at this step.

6. What cell types do you use in your research? Please share your experience in growing cells in our hydrogel.

In my project I mainly use primary neurons (e.g. dorsal root neurons, cortical neurons) but also primary glial cells like astrocytes and microglia. These cells grew well in Biogelx hydrogel in my experience.

7. What are the next steps in your research?

We may try different hydrogels from the range of products that Biogelx offers to identify the optimal hydrogel for the purpose of our research.

 

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