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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

Daniel Kim, Neurobiology, Biology - 2007-08 RFAU

Daniel Kim photoI actually didn’t ever believe that in college I would be doing research.  Originally, I planned to get a degree in engineering, get a job at Boeing, start a family, and settle into the IKEA life.  However, my life plans were turned upside down when one day my best friend told me that she had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.  For us and our friendship, there was nothing that I could do but watch over the next few months as her health, cognition, and life faded away.

Armed with the memory of my friend, I feel that I now realize my purpose in life.  I live and breathe to further scientific thought, to push the boundaries of research and to discover novel ways to treat human diseases. 

In a perfect world, no one would ever have to watch a loved one slowly wither away.  Today, we do not live in a perfect world. But it is my will to continue innovating, thinking and researching until we do.

Mentor: Xiaohu Gao, Bioengineering

Project Title: Enhanced chemotherapy tumor targeting utilizing the DV3 ligand and a gold nanoparticle complex

Abstract: Modern chemotherapy is a double edged sword: while it does effectively inhibit the mitotic division of cancerous cells, it also prevents the normal division of healthy cells.  This leads to side-effects such as nausea, hair loss, and in some cases, death of the patient.  Therefore, the goal of our project is to create a gold nanoparticle (AuNP) that enhances the targeting and delivery of chemotherapy agents to cancerous cells only.  We hypothesize that through bioconjugation with the DV3 ligand, which binds preferentially to a tumorous chemokine receptor (CXR4), we can accomplish our goal of enhanced targeting.  Once the DV3 ligand and CXR4 receptor have bound, the disulfide bond connecting the DV3 ligand to the AuNP will be cleaved by an extracellular enzyme, freeing the AuNP to enter the cell via endocytosis.  The AuNP now inside the cell will be free to release its cargo of chemotherapy drugs, resulting in autolysis and automated cell death.  Overall, this project is just a small slice of what the broad field of nanotechnology offers in the exciting and promising future of the treatment of human disease and health care to alleviate the suffering of people worldwide.