Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Daniel Weiss

Second Advisor

Jim Vigoreaux


Cystic Fibrosis, Stem Cells, Air-Liquid Interface, Tracheal Culture


Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease and although advancements have been made in treating it, current therapies are not a cure and require expensive daily treatment. Delivering CF transmembrane conductance regulator gene-corrected stem cells in to the airway to engraft into the epithelial cell layer could provide long-term benefits. The development of extracellular matrix nanoscaffolds that shrink-wrap cells allows for more effective cell delivery and engraftment. The goal of this project was to develop an ex vivo culture system for tracheal explants to examine the engraftment of shrink-wrapped bronchial epithelial cells. In vivo tracheal conditions were modeled using air-liquid interface culture. The results of this research demonstrate that the current culture system is unable to maintain the integrity of ex vivo tracheal explants in order to test the engraftment of shrink-wrapped stem cells. These results suggest that an alternative method is needed to hold the tracheas flat against the transwell insert. Further research is needed before testing the engraftment of shrink-wrapped stem cells in whole tracheal explants.