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Augmenting Protocols for In-situ Separation of Biocompounds.

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In our modern world the source of for many chemicals is to acquire and refine oil. This process is becoming an expensive to the environment and to human health. Alternative processes for acquiring the final product have been developed but

In our modern world the source of for many chemicals is to acquire and refine oil. This process is becoming an expensive to the environment and to human health. Alternative processes for acquiring the final product have been developed but still need work. One product that is valuable is butanol. The normal process for butanol production is very intensive but there is a method to produce butanol from bacteria. This process is better because it is more environmentally safe than using oil. One problem however is that when the bacteria produce too much butanol it reaches the toxicity limit and stops the production of butanol. In order to keep butanol from reaching the toxicity limit an adsorbent is used to remove the butanol without harming the bacteria. The adsorbent is a mesoporous carbon powder that allows the butanol to be adsorbed on it. This thesis explores different designs for a magnetic separation process to extract the carbon powder from the culture.

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2015-05

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Toxicity study in Alzheimer's disease cell model

Description

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, affecting one in nine people age 65 and older. One of the most important neuropathological characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is the aggregation and deposition of the protein beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, affecting one in nine people age 65 and older. One of the most important neuropathological characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is the aggregation and deposition of the protein beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is produced by proteolytic processing of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP). Production of beta-amyloid from APP is increased when cells are subject to stress since both APP and beta-secretase are upregulated by stress. An increased beta-amyloid level promotes aggregation of beta-amyloid into toxic species which cause an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a decrease in cell viability. Therefore reducing beta-amyloid generation is a promising method to control cell damage following stress. The goal of this thesis was to test the effect of inhibiting beta-amyloid production inside stressed AD cell model. Hydrogen peroxide was used as stressing agent. Two treatments were used to inhibit beta-amyloid production, including iBSec1, an scFv designed to block beta-secretase site of APP, and DIA10D, a bispecific tandem scFv engineered to cleave alpha-secretase site of APP and block beta-secretase site of APP. iBSec1 treatment was added extracellularly while DIA10D was stably expressed inside cell using PSECTAG vector. Increase in reactive oxygen species and decrease in cell viability were observed after addition of hydrogen peroxide to AD cell model. The increase in stress induced toxicity caused by addition of hydrogen peroxide was dramatically decreased by simultaneously treating the cells with iBSec1 or DIA10D to block the increase in beta-amyloid levels resulting from the upregulation of APP and beta-secretase.

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Date Created
2014

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Lead identification, optimization and characterization of novel cancer treatment strategies using repositioned drugs

Description

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and novel methods of treating advanced malignancies are of high importance. Of these deaths, prostate cancer and breast cancer are the second most fatal carcinomas in men and

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and novel methods of treating advanced malignancies are of high importance. Of these deaths, prostate cancer and breast cancer are the second most fatal carcinomas in men and women respectively, while pancreatic cancer is the fourth most fatal in both men and women. Developing new drugs for the treatment of cancer is both a slow and expensive process. It is estimated that it takes an average of 15 years and an expense of $800 million to bring a single new drug to the market. However, it is also estimated that nearly 40% of that cost could be avoided by finding alternative uses for drugs that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The research presented in this document describes the testing, identification, and mechanistic evaluation of novel methods for treating many human carcinomas using drugs previously approved by the FDA. A tissue culture plate-based screening of FDA approved drugs will identify compounds that can be used in combination with the protein TRAIL to induce apoptosis selectively in cancer cells. Identified leads will next be optimized using high-throughput microfluidic devices to determine the most effective treatment conditions. Finally, a rigorous mechanistic analysis will be conducted to understand how the FDA-approved drug mitoxantrone, sensitizes cancer cells to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

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Preparation and svaluation of aminoglycoside-based nanogels and microgels for gene delivery and DNA binding

Description

Many therapeutics administered for some of the most devastating illnesses can be toxic and result in unwanted side effects. Recent developments have been made in an alternative treatment method, called gene therapy. Gene therapy has potential to rectify the genetic

Many therapeutics administered for some of the most devastating illnesses can be toxic and result in unwanted side effects. Recent developments have been made in an alternative treatment method, called gene therapy. Gene therapy has potential to rectify the genetic defects that cause a broad range of diseases. Many diseases, such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, and acquired immunodeficiency (AIDS) already have gene therapy protocols that are currently in clinical trials. Finding a non-toxic and efficient gene transfer method has been a challenge. Viral vectors are effective at transgene delivery however potential for insertion mutagenesis and activation of immune responses raises concern. For this reason, non-viral vectors have been investigated as a safer alternative to viral-mediated gene delivery. Non-viral vectors are also easy to prepare and scalable, but are limited by low transgene delivery efficacies and high cytotoxicity at effective therapeutic dosages. Thus, there is a need for a non-toxic non-viral vector with high transgene efficacies. In addition to the hurdles in finding a material for gene delivery, large-scale production of pharmaceutical grade DNA for gene therapy is needed. Current methods can be labor intensive, time consuming, and use toxic chemicals. For this reason, an efficient and safe method to collect DNA is needed. One material that is currently being explored is the hydrogel. Hydrogels are a useful subclass of biomaterials, with a wide variety of applications. This class of biomaterials can carry up to a thousand times their weight in water, and are biocompatible. At smaller dimensions, referred to as micro- and nanogels, they are very useful for many biomedical applications because of their size and ability to swell. Based on a previously synthesized hydrogel, and due to the advantages of smaller dimension in biomedical applications, we have synthesized aminoglycoside antibiotic based nanogels and microgels. Microgels and nanogels were synthesized following a ring opening polymerization of epoxide-containing crosslinkers and polyamine-containing monomers. The nanogels were screened for their cytocompatibilities and transfection efficacies, and were compared to polyethylenimine (PEI), a current standard for polymer-mediated transgene delivery. Nanogels demonstrated minimal to no toxicity to the cell line used in the study even at high concentrations. Due to the emerging need for large-scale production of DNA, microgels were evaluated for their binding capacity to plasmid DNA. Future work with the aminoglycoside antibiotic-based nanogels and microgels developed in this study will involve optimization of nanogels and microgels to facilitate in better transgene delivery and plasmid DNA binding, respectively.

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Date Created
2014

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Expanding applications of portable biological systems: enhancements to mammalian gene editing and bacterial quorum sensing networks

Description

The portability of genetic tools from one organism to another is a cornerstone of synthetic biology. The shared biological language of DNA-to-RNA-to-protein allows for expression of polypeptide chains in phylogenetically distant organisms with little modification. The tools and contexts are

The portability of genetic tools from one organism to another is a cornerstone of synthetic biology. The shared biological language of DNA-to-RNA-to-protein allows for expression of polypeptide chains in phylogenetically distant organisms with little modification. The tools and contexts are diverse, ranging from catalytic RNAs in cell-free systems to bacterial proteins expressed in human cell lines, yet they exhibit an organizing principle: that genes and proteins may be treated as modular units that can be moved from their native organism to a novel one. However, protein behavior is always unpredictable; drop-in functionality is not guaranteed.

My work characterizes how two different classes of tools behave in new contexts and explores methods to improve their functionality: 1. CRISPR/Cas9 in human cells and 2. quorum sensing networks in Escherichia coli.

1. The genome-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 has facilitated easily targeted, effective, high throughput genome editing. However, Cas9 is a bacterially derived protein and its behavior in the complex microenvironment of the eukaryotic nucleus is not well understood. Using transgenic human cell lines, I found that gene-silencing heterochromatin impacts Cas9’s ability to bind and cut DNA in a site-specific manner and I investigated ways to improve CRISPR/Cas9 function in heterochromatin.

2. Bacteria use quorum sensing to monitor population density and regulate group behaviors such as virulence, motility, and biofilm formation. Homoserine lactone (HSL) quorum sensing networks are of particular interest to synthetic biologists because they can function as “wires” to connect multiple genetic circuits. However, only four of these networks have been widely implemented in engineered systems. I selected ten quorum sensing networks based on their HSL production profiles and confirmed their functionality in E. coli, significantly expanding the quorum sensing toolset available to synthetic biologists.

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Date Created
2017

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Synthesis of Biological and Mathematical Methods for Gene Network Control

Description

Synthetic biology is an emerging field which melds genetics, molecular biology, network theory, and mathematical systems to understand, build, and predict gene network behavior. As an engineering discipline, developing a mathematical understanding of the genetic circuits being studied is of

Synthetic biology is an emerging field which melds genetics, molecular biology, network theory, and mathematical systems to understand, build, and predict gene network behavior. As an engineering discipline, developing a mathematical understanding of the genetic circuits being studied is of fundamental importance. In this dissertation, mathematical concepts for understanding, predicting, and controlling gene transcriptional networks are presented and applied to two synthetic gene network contexts. First, this engineering approach is used to improve the function of the guide ribonucleic acid (gRNA)-targeted, dCas9-regulated transcriptional cascades through analysis and targeted modification of the RNA transcript. In so doing, a fluorescent guide RNA (fgRNA) is developed to more clearly observe gRNA dynamics and aid design. It is shown that through careful optimization, RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) driven gRNA transcripts can be strong enough to exhibit measurable cascading behavior, previously only shown in RNA Polymerase III (Pol III) circuits. Second, inherent gene expression noise is used to achieve precise fractional differentiation of a population. Mathematical methods are employed to predict and understand the observed behavior, and metrics for analyzing and quantifying similar differentiation kinetics are presented. Through careful mathematical analysis and simulation, coupled with experimental data, two methods for achieving ratio control are presented, with the optimal schema for any application being dependent on the noisiness of the system under study. Together, these studies push the boundaries of gene network control, with potential applications in stem cell differentiation, therapeutics, and bio-production.

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Date Created
2018