Stroke is a leading cause of death and long-term disability. Nearly 800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year and almost 130,000 die from stroke annually. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Blood vessels and brain tissue develop in parallel and their survival and function are interdependent; thus when one system is damaged, the other degenerates.
The goal of this project is to bioengineer a replacement unit of neural stem cells, along with the blood cells and vessels that support them, that can be integrated into the brains of stroke patients to promote neurological repair. Current work is focused on pre-clinical investigation to define the characteristics of a neuro-vascular replacement unit that are needed to facilitate brain repair.