Eduardo Silva has received a 2014-2015 UC Davis Hellman Fellowship Award for a project that investigates why old people cannot recover from injury tissue as effectively as young people. Dr. Silva believes the problem is the lack of progenitor cells (a type of adult stem cell). His project aims to understand the impact of aging on vascular repair by using older animal models that better mimic the symptoms of aged people. The research will generate critical knowledge that could limit vascular disease progression in the context of an increasingly aging US population.
Blood vessel dysfunction is a key component of aging. When blood supply to vessels is restricted, endogenous endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) cannot home in on the tissue properly, impairing vascular homeostasis, repair, and maintenance. No one knows the exact mechanisms by which the EPCs do this. To help find the answer, Dr. Silva will use a polymer hydrogel for sustained delivery of activated EPCs and observe whether or not it promotes the formation of new blood vessels in the blood-restricted tissue.