Nanofiber Control of Focal Adhesion Dynamics and Cell Migration for Regenerative Medicine

Open Access
Riley, Thomas Roberts
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Justin Lee Brown, Thesis Supervisor
  • William O Hancock, Honors Advisor
  • Peter J Butler, Faculty Reader
  • Matlab
  • Image Processing
  • Focal Adhesion
  • Cell Migration
  • Nanofiber
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Regenerative Medicine
Across the globe, millions of people require medical attention as tissues and organs of the body fail due to disease or trauma. Strategies from tissue engineering and regenerative medicine seek to blend stem cells with biomaterial scaffolds to generate solutions to a myriad of medical problems; a recent trend in these disciplines is to apply a bottom-up approach, seeking to understand the fundamentals of cell behavior, differentiation, and interaction with the extracellular environment to intelligently design therapeutic interventions. One key facet of cell behavior to consider in regenerative medicine is cell migration. Implicated in other phenomenon such as cancer metastasis and wound healing, controlling cell migration could allow for a precise distribution of cell types in a material construct or recruit specific cells onto scaffolds from the surrounding healthy tissue. Understanding how cell migration and the related focal adhesion dynamics change on scaffolds will be a key insight into how materials can be designed to control cell behavior. The current work seeks to develop methods to assess cell migration and focal adhesion dynamics on nanofiber scaffolds and how they are altered relative to control surfaces. A focal adhesion identification and tracking software (FAITS) package has been compiled using Matlab and validated to quantify and describe adhesion dynamics. Time-lapse protocols were developed to assess focal adhesion dynamics, and obstacles in etching nanofibers to control the final diameter were identified. Preliminary data suggests that nanofibers lead to large elongated focal adhesions and regulates cell velocity differently than planar surfaces.