Damla Arslantunalı




Research Assistant at Department of Biotechnology, METU 

PhD. Student in Biotechnology, METU


PhD Student in Biotechnology, METU

M.Sc. Biotechnology, METU, 2012

B.Sc. Molecular Biology and Genetics, METU, 2008.

Contact: e-mail:



Research Field: 


Preparation Of Nerve Guidance Channels As Drug Delivery Systems For Spinal Cord Injuries


Spinal cord injury results in a functional deficiency that usually leads to severe and permanent paralysis due to the limited capacity of spontaneous reorganization of the adult CNS after an injury. The cellular environment has a strong influence on axon regeneration. After injury there is a lack of growth promoting substrates and diffusible proteins.  Axon growth is also inhibited as a result of the inflammatory responses. Following the injury, glial scar is formed which contributes to the hindrance of regeneration. One important reason for scar formation is the myelin growth inhibitor, Nogo-A. Myelin growth inhibitors, including Nogo-A, use Rho-ROCK pathways, and thus it is logical that these pathways are inhibited. Anti Nogo-A, for example, was described as an agent for the treatment of injured CNS axons in rats. In addition there is a direct correlation between neuronal cAMP levels and inhibition of axon outgrowth. Increasing neuronal cAMP levels is a way of stimulating axon regeneration. Restoration of neurological function after the injury by use of tissue engineering and developing polymer scaffolds for the damaged site of the spinal cord is being explored. The purpose of the implantation of this scaffold is to help formation and guidance of new neuronal tissue. In this study the polymeric scaffold will be designed to both help regeneration by guiding regenerating axons physically and by inactivating regeneration inhibitors. The scaffold to be developed will be tested in terms of mechanical and surface properties and in vitro and in vivo studies will be carried out to determine the regenerative capacity of the scaffolds.


Research Experience

  • Research Member of METU Biomaterials (BIOMAT) Group and Center of Excellence in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering (BIOMATEN) METU, Ankara, Turkey
  • Dissertation Title: Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube-Poly(2-Hydroxyethylmethacrylate) Composite Conduit for Peripheral Nerve Repair

Advisor: Prof. Vasıf Hasırcı, Co-Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Gürer Budak

  •  Undergraduate Research Student, METU, Ankara, Turkey                                                               

Graduation Thesis: Polymorphism Of N-Acetyl Transferase 1 Gene And Its Relation With Prostate Cancer

Advisor: Assist. Prof. Tülin Güray, Department of Biology, Metu

Selected Publications:

  • Arslantunali D, Dursun T, Yucel D, Hasirci N, Hasirci V. 2014. Review: Peripheral nerve conduits: technology update. Medical Devices, Evidence and Research.7;405–424.
  • Aydemir Sezer U, Arslantunalı D, Aksoy EA, Hasırcı V, Hasırcı N. 2013. Poly(e-caprolactone) Composite Scaffolds Loaded with Gentamicin-Containingb-Tricalcium Phosphate/Gelatin Microspheres for Bone Tissue Engineering Applications. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, DOI: 10.1002/APP.40110
  • Arslantunali D, Budak G, Hasirci V. 2013. Multiwalled CNT-pHEMA composite conduit for peripheralnerve repair. J Biomed Mater Res Part A 2013:00A:000–000. (Published online)
  • Yucel D, Kanneci IA, Arslantunalı D, Torun Kose G, Hasirci V, Spinal Cord Injury; Tissue Engineering Using Stem Cells. In Hayat MA, ed, Tumors of the Central Nervous System Volume 10, 2013, pp 271-287.
  • D. Arslantunalı, G. Budak, V. Hasırcı. Preparation of Multiwalled CNT loaded pHEMA Conduit for Peripheral Nerve Repair. II. Dünya Nanotıp Kongresi, 3-6 Ekim 2010, Antalya.
  • (Poster Presentation)
  •  D. Arslantunalı, G. Budak, V. Hasırcı. Preparation of Multiwalled CNT loaded pHEMA Conduit for Peripheral Nerve Repair. BIOMED 2011, 23-25 November, Ankara. (Poster Presentation)

Work Experience

  • Research/Teaching Assistant    2011-    Middle East Technical University, Department of Biotechnology, Ankara, Turkey
  • Research Assistant                      2009-2011 Gazi University Nano-Medicine Reseach  Laboratory, Ankara, Turkey
  • Project Assistant                            2008-2009 Metis Biyoteknoloji ATB İş Merkezi Anadolu Bulvarı, Ankara, Turkey

Courses Given:

  • Bioanalytical Chemistry Lab Teaching Assistant: A course designed to teach the theory and techniques of quantitative analysis of biologically important ions and compounds. Teaching of laboratory techniques such as volumetry, gravimetry, choratography and spectrophotometry constitute the major aspects of the practical part of the course.

  • Molecular and Cell Biology II Lab Teaching Assistant: Cell cycle, DNA replication and mitosis, sexual reproduction, meiosis and genetic variability, patterns of inheritance, molecular genetics, cellular mechanisms of development, cellular differentiation and specialization, molecular aspects of cancer.


  • Erasmus University Medical Centre Rotterdam  PO Box 2040,                                 June – September 2007    

3000 CA  Rotterdam, Netherlands
Department of Forensic Molecular Biology Y-STR Mutation analysis project

  • Ankara University Forensic Sciences Institute, Ankara, Turkey                                  June-July 2006

Forensic Biology and Forensic Entomology Forensic Entomology Studies

  • Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey                                                         November 2004 -December 2005 

Plant Biotechnology Laboratory Transgenic Tobacco Studies