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Pharmacologic Modulation of the Blood-Brain Barrier

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One of the most prominent biological challenges for the field of drug delivery is the blood-brain barrier. This physiological system blocks the entry of or actively removes almost all small molecules into the central nervous system (CNS), including many drugs

One of the most prominent biological challenges for the field of drug delivery is the blood-brain barrier. This physiological system blocks the entry of or actively removes almost all small molecules into the central nervous system (CNS), including many drugs that could be used to treat diseases in the CNS. Previous studies have shown that activation of the adenosine receptor signaling pathway through the use of agonists has been demonstrated to increase BBB permeability. For example, regadenoson is an adenosine A2A receptor agonist that has been shown to disrupt the BBB and allow for increased drug uptake in the CNS. The goal of this study was to verify this property of regadenoson. We hypothesized that co-administration of regadenoson with a non-brain penetrant macromolecule would facilitate its entry into the central nervous system. To test this hypothesis, healthy mice were administered regadenoson or saline concomitantly with a fluorescent dextran solution. The brain tissue was either homogenized to measure quantity of fluorescent molecule, or cryosectioned for imaging with confocal fluorescence microscopy. These experiments did not identify any significant difference in the amount of fluorescence detected in the brain after regadenoson treatment. These results contradict those of previous studies and highlight potential differences in injection methodology, time windows, and properties of brain impermeant molecules.

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2015-05

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The Effect of Nanoparticle Diameter on TAT-mediated Delivery to the CNS In Vivo

Description

Neurological disorders are difficult to treat with current drug delivery methods due to their inefficiency and the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms behind drug delivery across the blood brain barrier (BBB). Nanoparticles (NPs) are a promising drug delivery method

Neurological disorders are difficult to treat with current drug delivery methods due to their inefficiency and the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms behind drug delivery across the blood brain barrier (BBB). Nanoparticles (NPs) are a promising drug delivery method due to their biocompatibility and ability to be modified by cell penetrating peptides, such as transactivating transciptor (TAT) peptide, which has been shown to increase efficiency of delivery. There are multiple proposed mechanisms of TAT-mediated delivery that also have size restrictions on the molecules that can undergo each BBB crossing mechanism. The effect of nanoparticle size on TAT-mediated delivery in vivo is an important aspect to research in order to better understand the delivery mechanisms and to create more efficient NPs. NPs called FluoSpheres are used because they come in defined diameters unlike polymeric NPs that have a broad distribution of diameters. Both modified and unmodified 100nm and 200nm NPs were able to bypass the BBB and were seen in the brain, spinal cord, liver, and spleen using confocal microscopy and a biodistribution study. Statistically significant differences in delivery rate of the different sized NPs or between TAT-modified and unmodified NPs were not found. Therefore in future work a larger range of diameter size will be evaluated. Also the unmodified NPs will be conjugated with scrambled peptide to ensure that both unmodified and TAT-modified NPs are prepared in identical fashion to better understand the role of size on TAT targeting. Although all the NPs were able to bypass the BBB, future work will hopefully provide a better representation of how NP size effects the rate of TAT-mediated delivery to the CNS.

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2016-05

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A robust vitronectin-derived peptide substrate for the scalable long-term expansion and neuronal differentiation of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived neural progenitor cells (hNPCs)

Description

Several debilitating neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and spinal cord injury, are characterized by the damage or loss of neuronal cell types in the central nervous system (CNS). Human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) derived from human pluripotent stem

Several debilitating neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and spinal cord injury, are characterized by the damage or loss of neuronal cell types in the central nervous system (CNS). Human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can proliferate extensively and differentiate into the various neuronal subtypes and supporting cells that comprise the CNS. As such, hNPCs have tremendous potential for disease modeling, drug screening, and regenerative medicine applications. However, the use hNPCs for the study and treatment of neurological diseases requires the development of defined, robust, and scalable methods for their expansion and neuronal differentiation. To that end a rational design process was used to develop a vitronectin-derived peptide (VDP)-based substrate to support the growth and neuronal differentiation of hNPCs in conventional two-dimensional (2-D) culture and large-scale microcarrier (MC)-based suspension culture. Compared to hNPCs cultured on ECMP-based substrates, hNPCs grown on VDP-coated surfaces displayed similar morphologies, growth rates, and high expression levels of hNPC multipotency markers. Furthermore, VDP surfaces supported the directed differentiation of hNPCs to neurons at similar levels to cells differentiated on ECMP substrates. Here it has been demonstrated that VDP is a robust growth and differentiation matrix, as demonstrated by its ability to support the expansions and neuronal differentiation of hNPCs derived from three hESC (H9, HUES9, and HSF4) and one hiPSC (RiPSC) cell lines. Finally, it has been shown that VDP allows for the expansion or neuronal differentiation of hNPCs to quantities (>1010) necessary for drug screening or regenerative medicine purposes. In the future, the use of VDP as a defined culture substrate will significantly advance the clinical application of hNPCs and their derivatives as it will enable the large-scale expansion and neuronal differentiation of hNPCs in quantities necessary for disease modeling, drug screening, and regenerative medicine applications.

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Date Created
2016

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Using bioengineering approaches to generate a three-dimensional (3D) human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based model for neurodegenerative diseases

Description

The pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), remain difficult to ascertain in part because animal models fail to fully recapitulate the complex pathophysiology of these diseases. In vitro models of neurodegenerative diseases generated with patient derived human

The pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), remain difficult to ascertain in part because animal models fail to fully recapitulate the complex pathophysiology of these diseases. In vitro models of neurodegenerative diseases generated with patient derived human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) could provide new insight into disease mechanisms. Although protocols to differentiate hiPSCs and hESCs to neurons have been established, standard practice relies on two dimensional (2D) cell culture systems, which do not accurately mimic the complexity and architecture of the in vivo brain microenvironment.

I have developed protocols to generate 3D cultures of neurons from hiPSCs and hESCs, to provide more accurate models of AD. In the first protocol, hiPSC-derived neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) are plated in a suspension of Matrigel™ prior to terminal differentiation of neurons. In the second protocol, hiPSCs are forced into aggregates called embryoid bodies (EBs) in suspension culture and subsequently directed to the neural lineage through dual SMAD inhibition. Culture conditions are then changed to expand putative hNPC populations and finally differentiated to neuronal spheroids through activation of the tyrosine kinase pathway. The gene expression profiles of the 3D hiPSC-derived neural cultures were compared to fetal brain RNA. Our analysis has revealed that 3D neuronal cultures express high levels of mature pan-neuronal markers (e.g. MAP2, β3T) and neural transmitter subtype specific markers. The 3D neuronal spheroids also showed signs of neural patterning, similar to that observed during embryonic development. These 3D culture systems should provide a platform to probe disease mechanisms of AD and enable to generation of more advanced therapeutics.

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2016