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The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program
Christopher Mount - Bioengineering
Currently a student in the Department of Bioengineering, Chris Mount's research interests involve developing drug delivery systems to achieve targeted delivery of chemotherapeutics and contrast agents for treatment and imaging of cancer. He has pursued this research under the mentorship of Dr. Suzie Pun, also in the Department of Bioengineering. Collaborating with other researchers in the lab, Chris has recently been working to develop nanoparticles composed of a synthetic polymer for drug delivery applications. With the support of the Levinson scholarship, he hopes to elucidate the morphologies of these particles and evaluate their potential for enhancing the efficacy of anticancer agents. Following graduation, Chris plans to enter a combined M.D./Ph.D. program to train for a career in biomedical research.
Mentor: Suzie Pun, Bioengineering
Project Title: Design of polymeric filomicelles for enhances efficacy of chemotherapeutic delivary
Abstract: Despite decades of research in cancer biology, current therapeutic options for cancer patients remain limited. The administration of chemotherapeutic compounds remains one of the preeminent tools used by oncologists, but these treatments are nonspecific and tend to result in widespread systemic toxicity, limiting the maximum dose that can safely be administered. Moreover, the efficacy of these agents is limited by poor tissue penetration, multidrug resistant cancers, and solubility. Encapsulating chemotherapeutics within polymeric micelles provide one route to overcoming these challenges. Encapsulation enhances solubility, can inhibit P-glycoprotein membrane transporters responsible for multidrug resistance, and achieve specific delivery to tumor sites by exploiting the Enhanced Permeability and Retention (EPR) effect. Recent literature has highlighted the importance of micelle architecture in the effectiveness of polymeric micelle drug carriers, with notable attention to filament-type micelles, or filomicelles. We propose the use of polymeric filomicelles consisting of a poly(ethylene oxide) -poly(hydroxybutyrate) diblock copolymer for encapsulation of the chemotherapeutic doxorubicin to enhance its efficacy as an anti-cancer agent. Diblock composition will be designed to achieve optimal doxorubicin content, release kinetics, and cytotoxic efficiency in vitro. Doxorubicin-loaded filomicelles are anticipated to display enhanced chemotherapeutic efficacy against multidrug-resistant cancerous cell lines and exhibit enhanced tissue penetration ability in three-dimensional multicellular spheroid tumor models. This research is therefore expected to contribute a valuable, novel delivery vehicle for enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents.