Department of Physics Seminar Series: Marilyn Mackiewicz
Monday, February 26, 2018 - 3:15pm

SB1 107, 1025 SW Mill Street
Free and open to the public
Light refreshments will be served


Marilyn Mackiewicz
Department of Chemistry
Portland State University
"Using Tiny Pieces of Gold to Visualize Stem Cells that Repair Vision Loss"


Cell transplantation is a promising prospective therapy for retinal degenerative diseases and is currently being investigated in multiple clinical trials as a neuroprotective strategy to treat geographic atrophy, the advanced form of dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). In rodent models of retinal degeneration cell transplantation has been shown to rescue rod and cone photoreceptors, preserve electrophysiological responses of the retina and in visual pathways of the brain, and perhaps most clinically relevant, preserve eyesight. Characterization of cell-based therapies rely on specific information regarding cell survival, migration, and integration in the host that is primarily derived from post-mortem histological assessments. However, the serial nature of this method requires large numbers of animals for these studies at multiple time points since there is currently no method for evaluating efficacious cell-based therapies longitudinally in vivo. Consequently, there is a critical need for the development of technology that would enable us to understand the consequence of transplanting cells into the host retinal tissue as well as visually track transplanted cells survival and migration in vivo. Without this technology improvement and development of cell-based therapies will continue to be significantly hindered. Here we report the use of hybrid lipid-coated gold nanorods as retinal cell-labeling agents that can also act as contrast agents for in vivo imaging technologies such as optical coherence tomography (OCT). The surface architecture of the gold nanorods can be modified to improve their stability and enhance cellular internalization in retinal pigment cells as visualized by fluorescence confocal microscopy. The approach used to synthesize the hybrid lipid-coated gold nanorods is simple and can be used to produce a library of tailored nanoparticles of varying composition, shape, optical and electronic properties, and surface ligands. When combined with optical imaging technologies, these cell-labeling contrast agents can be used by researchers to assess the distribution, survival, migration, and differentiation of transplanted cells as well as track their location and rate of integration into the host retina in vivo.


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