Nervous system diseases (such as Parkinson's or post-traumatic medullar injury) are especially difficult to treat, as it is not easy to replace the parts of the neural puzzle which are damaged. The key is in developing functional neurons from in vitro-treated, cells but for this it is essential that the support on which these cells are based simulate the characteristics of the nervous system. This is what biochemist Patricia Garca has done, developing and validating a polymer support capable of inducing neuronal differentiation in vitro. Her PhD thesis, defended at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and undertaken at the Tecnalia Health Unit, is entitled Development of a new polymer support with components of extracellular neural matrix for application in the in vitro differentiation of different primary cells.
Ms Garca has developed a polymer material which contains topographic and biochemical characteristics suitable for converting cells into functional neurones. With this purpose in mind, photolithographic techniques have been combined with the technology of extracellular neural matrixes. The photolithographic technique involves a series of treatments based on exposure to light and chemical substances, and has acted to provide the support with the desired topographical form. As regards the extracellular neural matrix, cells adhere to this natural substrate in order to, amongst other things, be guided and acquire neuronal functionality, enabling the formation of new transplantable tissue for the nervous system. Ms Garca simulated the properties of this matrix in the support developed.
Biocompatible and inductor
At the validation phase, this polymer material proved to be biocompatible with the nervous system. It also acts to induce the formation of neurones sufficiently developed to be able to be used therapeutically, providing the induction is carried out from neural origin cells (the trial
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