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The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program

Danee Hidano - Bioengineering

Dannee HidanoDanee Hidano is currently a senior majoring in Bioengineering. She originally discovered her passion for research during her senior year of high school while interning at ZymoGenetics. As a freshman at UW, she joined Professor Dan Ratner's lab. The Ratner lab specifically focuses on the role of carbohydrates in the body and how they can be utilized to develop new drug delivery mechanisms. She was particularly drawn to biomedical research for its direct clinical relevance. In the lab, Danee synthesizes sugar-based polymers that are designed to carry toxic drugs into specific cells via active-targeting. Danee also works at PhaseRx, a pharmaceutical company in Seattle, as a chemistry lab assistant. After graduation, Danee intends to pursue a career in medicine with a continued emphasis in biomedical research. In her spare time, Danee enjoys playing soccer, drinking coffee, and hanging out with friends.

Mentor: Daniel Ratner, Bioengineering

Project Title: Using Carbohydrate-Targeting Copolymers for Drug Delivery

Abstract: Carbohydrate complexes, such as glycolipids and glycoproteins, serve as cellular markers and receptors universally found on the outer membranes of mammalian cells. These glycoconjugates distinguish different types of cells from one another and enable cellular recognition and adhesion. Both the immune system and foreign pathogens rely on these glycoconjugates to bind and enter host cells. For viruses and bacteria, adhesion to receptors is the first step in infection. Carbohydrates are highly diverse and are each able to bind to unique receptors. By mimicking nature, chemists use carbohydrates to bind and enter specific cells for drug delivery.

Active drug targeting is highly advantageous because the ability to deliver drugs exclusively to specific cells or organs reduces increases efficacy of the drug and decreases toxicity. In my current research, I am designing a drug carrier that takes advantage of these specific carbohydrate-receptor interactions to deliver small molecules into cells. Currently, I have successfully synthesized and characterized the carbohydrate monomers responsible for targeting. Next, I will synthesize the glycopolymer to function as the drug carrier. The glycopolymer is composed of three main components: (1) carbohydrate, (2) pyridal-disulfide methacrylamide (PDSMA), and (3) hydroxyl-ethyl methacryamide (HPMA).

Firstly, the carbohydrate monomers enable specific binding interactions that are leveraged to exclusively deliver therapeutics to intended cells. Secondly, the PDSMA monomers allow for versatile conjugation of any thiolated small molecule - including Doxorubicin (for chemotherapy treatment), peptides (for vaccines), or genetic material (for gene therapy) - through a disulfide exchange. Lastly, HPMA gives the copolymer biocompatible characteristics, such that it is more soluble and less immunogenic in vivo. Overall, due to the natural complexity and diversity of carbohydrates, the carbohydrate-based copolymer construct has promising potential as an active targeting drug carrier to both reduce toxicity and increase in drug efficacy.