A University of Arkansas professor and biomedical engineering researcher has received a $100,000 grant to develop a new drug delivery method designed to improve treatments for spinal cord injuries.
Young Hye Song, a biomedical engineering assistant professor, was awarded the grant by the PhRMA Foundation. This grant will further her research on a hydrogel, which have stem cells inside a nerve matrix, and allow the stem cells to live longer inside the human body to facilitate spinal cord healing.
“Hydrogels are water-swollen gels,” she said. “It’s like Jell-O, but instead of sugar and food coloring, it contains the extracellular tissue matrix components found in your body.” Previous studies have largely focused on placing cells directly into injury sites without the matrix to house them, Song said in a statement.
According to Song, most of the current spinal cord treatment strategies focus on pain management. This drug delivery method is intended to allow for increased spinal cord tissue healing, minimize pain and be as minimally invasive as possible.
“Anybody with a debilitating neurological injury could ultimately benefit from this work,” she said. “This platform can be tuned depending on the specific disease or injury, so it can potentially be applied to a lot of pathological or traumatic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or cartilage lesions.”