Imaging Proton Diffusion During the Electromechanical Reshaping of Cartilage
Faculty Mentor: Michael Hill, Chemistry Department
Funding: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Cartilage malformations are attributed to several serious health effects, including respiratory, hearing, and developmental issues. Originating from sources such as congenital defects, accidents, diseases, cancer treatments, and other external factors, these malformations often need to be addressed surgically. Electromechanical reshaping offers a cheaper and more accessible alternative to traditional cut-and-sew techniques, as it transiently alters the fibril network of cartilage through the passage of a DC current through an electrode. Early tests have shown damage to cells near the electrode, primarily as a result of the generation of reactive oxygen species and over-acidification. A modified technique aims to remedy this issue by administering a looping sequence that alternates between a galvanostatic and potentiostatic function at 0 and 1.5V. Monitoring the diffusion of protons via the quantification of color change through an electrolyte solution with universal indicator reveals a more even distribution of protons throughout the solution with the possibility of preventing the pH from falling below a threshold value. This information will be critical to the dosimetry of this treatment moving forward, possibly eliminating many of the barriers that currently exist as side effects of the treatment.
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