Tracking Neural Stem Cells in a Neural Injury Environment

Project Title: Tracking Neural Stem Cells in a Neural Injury Environment

Project Duration: May 25 – August 1, 2015 (10 weeks), 40 hours per week.

Project Mentors

  • Primary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone): Franklin West, Animal and Dairy Science Department,,, 706-542-0988
  • Secondary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone): Shannon Holmes, Department of Veterinary Biosciences & Diagnostic Imaging,,, 706.542.0888
  • Tertiary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone): Simon Platt, Department of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery,,
  • Graduate Student/PostDoc mentors (Name, Affiliation and Email/Phone): Alex Scharf, Department of Veterinary Biosciences & Diagnostic Imaging,

Project Description: Neural injuries, such as stroke and traumatic brain injury, are major causes of disability and death in the United States. However, there are few treatments if any for many of these conditions. One potential regenerative treatment is neural stem cell (NSC) therapy. NSC are capable of differentiating into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes and integrating into damaged and replacing lost neural networks. The ability to track NSC utilizing magnetic resonance imaging will provide critical real time information on the effect of the neural injury environment on biodistribution of cells and the potential interplay between the cells and tissue with cells potentially decreasing edema, tissue loss and improving blood flow in injured tissues. We will assess our ability to track superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle (SPION) labeled NSCs in a traumatic brain injury piglet model over time. We will determine corrolations between the presents of NSCs, tissue edema, changes in lesion size, white matter, brain metabolism and blood perfusion.

REU Student Role and Responsibility: The described project is a new initiative. This will require the REU student to start with tests to optimize loading of the SPION cells and then to test their effects on cell viability, proliferation and differentiation in vitro. MRI visualization of SPION labeled cells will then be optimized in phantoms on MRI scanner. The student will then participate in cell injections into normal and TBI piglet models. They will then assist in collecting and analyzing data to assess distribution of cells over a 3 month period.

Expected Outcome for REU student: The students work is expected to contribute to a peer-reviewed publication that will be targeted to the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine. This work will like be presented at multiple national and international meetings including International Society for Stem Cell Research, International Stroke Conference and the Traumatic Brain Injury Conference.

McClure REU Poster