We aim to find materials to recreate the physical and biochemical 3D microenvironment in which cells grow. By mimicking in vivo like cell surroundings providing suitable mechanical properties, adhesion cues and mitogens we plan to study cellular differentiation and migration to better understand the early stages of neural development.
Hydrogels have proven to be good candidates to create cell scaffolds due to their similarities to the natural extra cellar matrix (ECM). The hydrogel serves to create a 3D environment for the cells to attach to and grow in as well as interact with each other. One of the major components of the EMC is hyaluronic acid (HA), a large unbranched non-sulphated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) which can organize itself to form complex structures of different size and shape. By using hydrogels composed by the conventional polyethylene glycol (PEG) mixed with HA we evaluate new models for growing neuro epithelial stem cells (NES) for example by creating gradients of peptides in the gel to control the cell fate.