Engineering hydrogels for the delivery of stem cells

Context of the research:
Stroke is the number one cause of disability in the UK, with an estimated 150,000 new cases annually. Following the acute onset of stroke, lack of oxygen leads to massive neuronal cell death within minutes and progressive brain damage over the following hours and days. A therapeutic intervention that would retard or even halt stroke progression would benefit stroke survivors. In this context, stem cell-based therapies are currently being assessed in patients. However, delivering those cells safely and effectively to the area in the brain where they are needed most is challenging. There is the need to develop delivery systems that can place, retain, support and protect applied stem cells to maximise their therapeutic potential.

Aims and objectives: Ensuring that a delivery system can fulfil all these needs is not trivial and requires careful selection of the most suitable strategy. The overall aim is to develop hydrogels that can be loaded with stem cells and injected into the stroked brain, supports and protects the applied stem cell load at the target site. 

Potential applications and benefits: Achieving the vision of this proposal will have significant potential to contribute to the nation's health and wellbeing through the development of new, better and affordable stem cell delivery systems-a need that is currently unmet. 

Project ID: EP/N03127X/1