Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

Igor Barg (at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)

NanoBioMedical Centre of the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland (24.11.-02.12.2019 & 01.03.-14.03.2020)

Neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons, is highly limited in the adult human brain. Loss of neuronal cells due to neurodegenerative diseases, stroke or injury can therefore not be regenerated. A promising therapeutic solution is the use of neuronal stem cells, which could  artificially enable the regeneration of lost or damaged brain cells. In recent years, electrical stimulation by conjugated biopolymer thin films has been reported to have a positive influence on the differentiation of neural stem cells. Recently, I was able to synthesize novel 3D networks of electrically conductive biopolymers with a mechanical modulus matching that of the brain. Thus, I visited the NanoBioMedical Centre in Poznan (Poland), lead by Professor Dr. Stefan Jurga, since his group has great experience and expertise in the investigation of scaffold materials for neural stem cell engineering. The main aim was to answer whether my 3D materials are a suitable scaffold for neural stem cells. Therefore, investigations of pristine and protein functionalized 3D networks regarding the cytotoxicity, cell differentiation, cell morphology and distribution were performed. Since we obtained highly promising results for the protein functionalized scaffolds, a long-term cooperation with further investigations is planned. During my research stay, all people in the group of Prof. Jurga and especially cohost Jagoda Litowczenko were very friendly and helped me a lot to learn the methods of neural stem cell engineering. Besides the scientific insights, it was also very exciting to get to know the local culture and language. Overall, working in this highly multidisciplinary field at the interface between materials science and neurobiology was a great experience, that will for sure help me in the future and for which I am very grateful.