Effects of Nitric Oxide Releasing Polymeric Scaffolds on Neuronal Differentiation

Project Title:

Effects of Nitric Oxide Releasing Polymeric Scaffolds on Neuronal Differentiation

Project Duration:

May 25 – Aug 10, 2015 (10 weeks), 40 hours/week

Project Mentors:


Primary Mentor:

Hitesh Handa, Ph.D.

College of Engineering

University of Georgia
Phone: 706-542-8109

Email: hhanda@uga.edu



Secondary Mentor

William Kisaalita, Ph.D.

College of Engineering
University of Georgia

Phone: 706-542-0835
Fax: 706-542-8806
Email: williamk@engr.uga.edu


Graduate Student/PostDoc mentors (Name, Affiliation and Email/Phone):


Marcus Goudie, M.S.

PhD Student, College of Engineering

Email: marcus.goudie25@uga.edu

Amish Asthana, Ph.D.

Post-Doc, College of Engineering

Email: amishasthana1985@gmail.com


Project Description:

A neuron is the primary unit of nervous system, which consists of brain and spinal cord. Due to their inherent characteristics, neurons do not reproduce or replace themselves, which may result in medical complications like neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the well-known examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease. Existing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases are very limited and only treat the symptoms, rather than addressing the cause. As such, there are currently no therapies available to cure neurodegeneration. Development of a feasible cure would include combining genomic sciences and combinatorial chemistry by developing diverse molecular libraries using cell (neuron) based assays. SH-SY5Y cells are morphologically, biochemically and electrophysiolgically more similar to neurons because they express a variety of neuronal markers (Xue et al., 2006; Zheng et al., 2006). Literature suggests that nitric oxide (NO) plays a pivotal role in differentiation of PC12 pheochromocytoma cells, another neuronal cell type (Poluha eta l., 1997). Therefore, we hypothesize that exogenous release of NO from polymeric scaffolds can help us achieve neuronal differentiation of SH-SY5Y cells.


REU student role and responsibility:

The student will work under the supervision of the graduate student in Dr. Handa’s lab and the post-doc in Dr. Kisaalita’s lab:

  • To develop and characterize NO releasing polymeric scaffolds.
  • To learn basic cell culture techniques to study the differentiation of SH-SY5Y cells.

Expected outcome for REU student:

The student will receive training on how to conduct research in an academic environment, including the development and characterization of NO releasing materials that will be used to prepare scaffolds. The student will also learn basics of tissue engineering and cell studies. Upon successful implementation of this project, the student’s contribution on this project is expected to be submitted for a journal publication.

Helms REU Poster