The field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of engineering and life sciences toward the development of biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function or a whole organ. The process involves seeding cells onto biocompatible scaffolds that temporarily act as a supporting structure for cells to attach and grow. Scaffolds for tissue regeneration must present a viable microenvironment for the living cells to adhere, proliferate, and exhibit the necessary tissue function. Electrospinning is an emerging area where polymeric fibers can be fabricated in the micro-nano scale. The flexibility of this process allows for including a wide array of synthetic and natural biocompatible polymers in the scaffold composition, inclusion of bioactive molecules (e.g. DNA, proteins) for enhancing therapeutic applications, and ability to control material and mechanical properties via the electrospinning process — all advantageous parameters that contribute to the promise of utilizing electrospun scaffolds in tissue repair. Biocompatible materials, such as polycaprolactone (PCL), have been used extensively to fabricate scaffolds using electrospinning technique, to study cell compatibility and to evaluate cell functionality for nerve tissue engineering applications. The objective of this study is to quantify the effects of the addition of valproic acid to PCL nanofiber scaffolds created through the electrospinning process with regards to cell proliferation. Valproic acid is a commonly used therapeutic drug for the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder. To determine the effects of the presence of valproic acid (VA), Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are seeded to the two scaffolds. Wharton’s jelly MSC are multipotent adult stem cells present in the umbilical cord and drawn from their matrix [1,2,3]. These stem cells have renowned ability for use in cell therapy and organ regeneration. This study tests the hypothesis that the presence of valproic acid in PCL nanofiber scaffolds will enhance cell proliferation. Structural and morphological characterization of the scaffolds is also carried out. Fiber diameter and tensile properties of the scaffolds with and without valproic acid are also observed. Such studies will enable us to understand the effects of drugs such as valproic acid on stem cells and will aid in designing scaffolds for applications in nerve regeneration.

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