This summer I am interning with the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) within the Fetal Cellular and Molecular Therapy division. The lab I work for focuses on regenerative medicine, specifically scar prevention and wound healing. As I am going into my second week here, I thought I would fill everybody in on my project and my plans for the summer.
Due to recent advances in cellular biology, the scientific community has developed a particular interest in fat grafting. The term fat grafting refers to when a doctor harvests fat from a patient’s body and then reinserts it at another location. This reconstructive and cosmetic procedure first became popular in the 1980’s when liposuction was first introduced, as fatty tissue is readily available, easy to obtain, and inexpensive. Since then, there have been encouraging results in experiments suggesting that the transfer of adipose tissue or fat to a wound can mitigate the formation of scars and can aid in the process of healing. Take a second to absorb that and consider the possible implications. Since there are over 200 million surgeries occurring each year around the world that end in the formation of a scar, the discovery of a therapeutic targeting this biological process has the potential to significantly decrease the psychological and physical burden that comes with scarring.
Our lab firmly believes that Interleukin-10 (IL-10), a cytokine or chemical messenger, is the driving force behind wound healing. My goal this summer is to show that fatty tissues ability to lessen scar formation is mediated by IL-10. With this in mind, I have ordered C57BL/6mice (this is the standard laboratory mouse) that I will use for my experiment. My methodology, generally speaking,
- Harvest fat from the groin area of the mouse (because there is more fat here than any other area)
- Process the fat (I have to remove the oils, blood, etc.)
- Create two wounds (4mm each) on the back of the mouse (I will cover the wound with a clear “band aid”)
- I will take a syringe and inject the fat (with various supplements) onto the bed of the wound
- I will humanely euthanize the mice at various time points (for example, day 7 and 28) and harvest the wounds along with the surrounding area
- I will then take histological images and run a variety of tests for analysis of different wound healing/scar parameters (for example, the quantity of new vessels formed in the wound bed)
Overall, I have to say it was a great first week. I went through badging easily, met new people in the lab, worked on this experimental plan with my supervisor, and the SURF program hosted a graduate fair and picnic to meet other SURF students and faculty, learn about recent advances in research, and just hang out. I am thrilled to be moving forward with this fat grafting project, and will post again soon.