To understand differences in drug and protein release from subunit vaccine formulations, we would like to study the in vitro dissolution of these particles, as well as potential kinetics of in vitro activation in cell culture. This project will require the student to develop skills in polymer synthesis, generation of nano/microparticles, in vitro biochemical assays and perhaps mammalian cell culture.
Genetically modified white blood cells called macrophages will be used to produce glial cell–derived neurotrophic factor, or GDNF, and deliver it to the brain via cell-mediated delivery to treat Parkinson’s disease. In addition to delivering GDNF, the engineered macrophages can “teach” neurons to make the protein for themselves by delivering both the tools and the instructions needed: DNA, messenger RNA and transcription factor. By teaching immune system cells to make this protective protein, we harness the natural systems of the body to combat degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease.