Wound Healing in Neural Cells: Abstract Update

As my work in the lab the past semester has taught me, science is unpredictable, and complications arise all the time that alter the course of research plans. During my summer project, I had planned to work with mouse embryonic stem cells to create cerebral organoid models of brain cells, and then use these models to examine how wound healing occurs and can be altered through genetic changes to the cells. However, when we tried to grow the stem cells over the spring semester, several problems arose, and many of the stem cells ended up getting contaminated and cannot be used at this time. We hope to revisit the stem cells at some point and try again to create organoids, but for now, my summer research will take a different direction. I will still be looking at mechanisms of wound healing in embryonic cells during development, but with a different approach using frog embryos to see what genes might be playing a role in the healing response during development. Here is my revised abstract for the summer.

For my summer research project, I will explore how embryonic cells respond to disruptions during development, specifically looking at wound healing in early embryos. Under the guidance of Dr. Saha at William and Mary, I will examine mechanisms of plasticity in frog embryos by characterizing the expression patterns of genes that are potentially involved in wound healing. Embryos are much more plastic than adult cells, meaning that they are better able to recover from genetic, chemical, and physical perturbations during development. My goal is to understand more about the specific genetic pathways that are involved in this healing ability. Previous experiments in the lab have produced a list of candidate genes that are differently expressed in embryos that have been physically perturbed during development. I will begin the summer by examining where and when in embryonic development these genes are expressed in order to understand more about their functions. Next, I will work on performing ablations on embryos (removing tissue and replacing it back in the same spot in the embryo) and observing how this affects gene expression at various time points after ablation, as well as comparing how responses differ between different types of ablations. The knowledge I will gain about wound healing in embryos has many important applications, including regenerative medicine and the development of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

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