By Jhohanna Perez
I’ve always hated milk. Like many, my parents have always reprimanded my refusal to accept the importance of milk and calcium. Thankfully, I unlike some of my friends, have not paid the price in the form of weak, broken bones or through the discomfort of a cast or brace. Alas, these are not solutions for more severe circumstances where surgery is the sole rehabilitation pathway. Due to the gravity of many situations, autografts and allografts have been recognized as model solutions. An autograft is a tissue transplanted from one part of the body to another of the same individual. In this instance, the patient would not only have to recuperate from one surgical operation but two, a combination that often results in longer rehabilitation. Allografts not only provide the option of using cadavers or synthetic materials, but they provide less intrusive procedures that pose a lower chance of revision surgery. Regardless of the odds, the chances of rejection and of attaining an infection cannot be ignored. With their abilities to differentiate into specialized bone cells, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) stand as a safer alternative when cultured in conditions similar to their native environment. In my experiment, I grew MSCs on random vs. aligned nanofiber scaffolds and analyzed differentiation factors. By staining the cells through Immunofluorescence Staining, characteristics including structural factors such as morphology and surface proteins specific to osteoblasts, qualitative analysis was indicative of appropriate differentiation. With this experiment, I observed the differentiation of cells in the absence of chemical cues, a process that would potentially facilitate the treatment of fractures and bone transplants.
If you would like to read more, click here for a full pdf of Jhohanna's formal research paper about his project!