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Presentation Time: 3:35-3:55
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Rahima Benhabbour, UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME)
Program: SMART
Research Title: An Investigation of Nanocellulose/Chitosan-Based Injectable Hydrogels

Osteoporosis affects approximately 200 million people worldwide. One in three women and one in five men over fifty years old will experience an osteoporotic fracture. These rates climb with age, and all rates of osteoporosis are expected to increase by 310% in men and 240% in women by 2050. Currently, an autograft, or a bone graft from one part of a patient’s body to a damaged part, is the gold standard treatment to facilitate bone regeneration for osteoporotic bone defects. However, limited supply of available bone grafts, low quality of regenerated tissues, slow healing processes, and potential risks from donor-site complications due to highly invasive surgical procedures remain the main limitations of this treatment option. The use of human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) based constructs has been intensively investigated to overcome these limitations and showed promising outcomes in preclinical studies. However, the optimal seeding density of hMSCs in biopolymer hydrogels remains unknown. Thus, hydrogel samples will be encapsulated with 5, 10, and 25 million cells per mL to determine cell viability with a confocal microscope post 24 and 72 hours. The results of the study will provide insight into what effects cell density in the hydrogel scaffolds will have on osteogenesis markers and regenerative outcomes.