As part of an undergraduate thesis project, fourth-year Biomedical Science student Brian Webb developed a self-dissolving wound dressing that has anti-bacterial properties.
Mr. Webb developed the biopolymer wound dressing – made from a material found in the shell of crustaceans - under the guidance of Chemistry professor Dr. Andrew Vreugdenhil.
BIOMEDICAL PROGRAM OFFERS INTERNSHIPS
Mr. Webb was drawn to Trent’s program because it offered the opportunity for an internship – Trent is one of only a few schools that has an internship program for undergraduate students. Mr. Webb completed his four-month placement at the Peterborough Health Sciences Centre, shadowing physicians and an anaesthesiologist. He was also able to observe surgeries.
“You read a lot in textbooks, but it was really eye-opening to see it in person,” says Mr. Webb. “It is completely different from what you see in an anatomy lab, where you’re working with cleaned bone or something plastic. You see the tissue, and that does not really happen in the classroom.”
Mr. Webb plans to continue his research as a graduate student, pursuing his Master of Applied Science. He has plans to begin working on a technique that uses human stem cells to generate new gum tissue in the lab. Receding gums can expose the roots of your teeth and cause damage to the supporting bone. It happens gradually, and many people don’t even realize it’s occurring, but once your gums have receded, they don’t grow back on their own. It’s a common condition, and periodontists treat receding gums by grafting tissue from the roof of a patient’s mouth onto their gum line. The procedure can be painful, and that pain can linger.
CULTIVATING GUM TISSUE
His plan is to cultivate gum tissue using a perfusion bioreactor -- a system that allows researchers to grow dense, three-dimensional tissue in an oxygen-controlled environment.
The tissue will be grown on a scaffold inside the bioreactor. Cells are supplied with nutrients and oxygen to stimulate growth, and the device automatically removes waste. Because the process will use a patient’s own tissue, the odds of the new tissue being rejected will be lower.
“This way, you can get blood and nutrients going into the scaffold as soon as possible. You will be implanting something that already has all of the vasculature,” Mr. Webb says.
Learn more about Trent’s unique Biomedical Science degree – the only of its kind in Ontario.