Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

Project 6: Katharina Siemsen

Embedding implant materials into structured hydrogels

The functionality of implant materials relies on incorporeity into the body and the cellular reaction of the body towards the implant. Cells respond to different external stimuli such as chemicals (e.g. drugs) or mechanical motivations (e.g. implant material). This stimuli, specially the mechanical stimuli of materials, also called mechanotransduction is an important cellular mechanism which needs to be investigated as it is not fully understood. This can gain a greater knowledge for example about preventing foreign body reaction such as scar tissue formation in the brain due to implant materials.
This PhD project is mainly about the investigation of mechanotransduction in 3D and to aim the prevention of foreign body reaction induced by implant systems for the brain built by the Research Training Group RTG 2154.
The brain is a very soft, jelly like tissue with a Young’s modulus of around 1 kPa. The drug delivery device will be built from stiffer materials, with the result of a mechanical mismatch of brain tissue and implant causing different cellular reactions because of the mechanotransduction. To mask this a soft, hydrated tissue like layer is needed. This is possible by synthetizing biocompatible hydrogels, polymers with a high water content. Those can be altered in its chemistry to match the mechanical behavior of the brain.
Another part is the investigation of the mechanotransduction in a tissue like environment. As the cell surrounding is structured and three dimensional, similar microarchitectures will be created to gain knowledge about the cellular reactions in 3D to different mechanical environments. This will lead to a deeper insight of cell migration, proliferation and forces of and onto cells in 3D.