Orit Shefi is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at Bar-Ilan University. She is the head of the Neuro-engineering and Regeneration laboratory and a member of the Bar Ilan Institute of Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials. In 2005, she earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Physics at Tel-Aviv University. From 2005-2008, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on nanotechnologies for neuronal engineering, 3D platforms for directed neuronal regeneration, magnetic manipulations of cells, and drug delivery tools.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) plays a vital role in reducing the loss of cholinergic neurons in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, its delivery to the brain remains a challenge. Herein, NGF is loaded into degradable oxidized porous silicon (PSiO2) carriers, which are designed to carry and continuously release the protein over a 1 month period. The released NGF exhibits a substantial neuroprotective effect in differentiated rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells against amyloid‐beta (Aβ)‐induced cytotoxicity, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Next, two potential localized administration routes of the porous carriers into murine brain are investigated: implantation of PSiO2 chips above the dura mater, and biolistic bombardment of PSiO2 microparticles through an opening in the skull using a pneumatic gene gun. The PSiO2‐implanted mice are monitored for a period of 8 weeks and no inflammation or adverse effects are observed. Subsequently, a successful biolistic delivery of these highly porous microparticles into a live‐mouse brain is demonstrated for the first time. The bombarded microparticles are observed to penetrate the brain and reach a depth of 150 µm. These results pave the way for using degradable PSiO2 carriers as potential localized delivery systems for NGF to the brain.
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