Abby Scott: Evaluating Extracellular Vesicles from Stem Cells

My name is Abby Scott, and I am a junior at FSU currently studying Cell and Bioprocess Engineering. I will be graduating in Spring 2024. I am honored to be named as the recipient of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society IDEA Grant and am extremely grateful for this opportunity. I am excited to get started on my undergraduate research project this summer as I will be working to study the effects of extracellular vesicles from adipose derived stem cells as a treatment for ischemic stroke patterns as compared to those from bone-derived mesenchymal stem cells. I will be beginning my work sometime in late May and am working now to develop specific project procedures with my principal investigator, Dr. Samuel Grant.

Abby Scott, Junior, Biomedical Engineering

After a stroke, patients experience a variety of long-term effects reducing quality of life. Injections of extracellular vesicles (EV) derived from stem cells can be used post-stroke as treatment, helping to activate endogenous repair processes. This project will characterize EV derived from human adipose-derived stem cells (ASC) and investigate their efficacy using behavior and MRI measures. ASC have similar potential as bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to differentiate into multiple cell lineages and yield EV; however, obtaining ASC is minimally invasive and yields higher cell counts compared to MSC. In vitro assays such as nanoparticle tracking, Western blots and electron microscopy will characterize ASC EV with respect to size, EV markers, and the proportion of exosomes in comparison to MSC. Following these analyses, ASC EV from will be tested in vivo by arterial injection in an ischemic rat model to assess efficacy compared to ongoing studies of MSC EV. Traditionally, though they grow well in culture, ASC are larger than MSC and do not tend to be used for ischemic injections as they may induce secondary strokes. The smaller, purified ASC EV may provide a viable alternative to direct ASC implantation that could be effective in recovering ischemic damage.

ASC can multiply for longer periods of time in culture yielding a larger EV harvest at a given time possibly expressing more beneficial treatment characteristics over bone-derived stem cells. ASC EV will be characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and nanoparticle tracking analysis to respectively visualize cell growth and the motion of cells in correlation to their particle size. These characterization methods will allow for monitoring of cell size to ensure the EV harvested are appropriate for injection and will yield desired treatment results. Western blotting is another method of characterization that will be used. This can determine various properties that could contribute to improved harvesting for treatment.

This research grant means so much to me because this project will be one of my first steps in gaining hands-on experience with the field I plan to pursue a career in. My inspiration for wanting to become a biomedical engineer comes from seeing my parents’ battles with cancer and my grandmother’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease. My grandmother passed away a little over a year ago, and I wish to honor her legacy by giving back to the medical community through serving people who are affected negatively by Alzheimer’s as she was. My ultimate career goal is to work towards cures for degenerative diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. I hope to study topics such as CRISPR/Cas9 in the future that could possibly lead to a cure for these diseases through site-specific gene-editing. I am so excited to be a recipient of this award because it is fueling the research that will hopefully lead to the beginning of a strong career in the biomedical engineering research industry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: