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Polycaprolactone nanoparticles

Polycaprolactone (PCL) is a biodegradable polymer commonly used to in implantable drug-loaded devices and scaffolds. PCL nanoparticles have been used for drug, protein, hormone, and vitamin delivery. Chemotherapy is an effective way of treating many cancers, however, chemotherapy is injected intravenously and affects the entire body, rather than localizing to the cancer. Polymeric encapsulation of chemotherapeutics, such as with PCL, can help localize the drug to the tumor site and increase the release time to reduce the number of clinic visits. Our focus is advanced and/or metastatic endometrial cancer, for which, there are few chemotherapeutic options in the standard of care.

Current projects include:

  • A sustained-release formulation to overcome paclitaxel resistance
  • Varying formulation methods to achieve a desired diameter of PCL nanoparticles and microparticles
  • A novel core-shell microparticle design for sustained release antitumorigenic activity

Microgel Delivery

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is present in the human body, and is a ligand for the CD44 receptor, which is commonly overexpressed in metastatic cancers. HA can be crosslinked with other polymers to form hydrogels with tunable properties. These hydrogels can then be loaded with drugs, proteins, genes, and other molecules, much in the same way as PCL. Our approach focuses on tailoring biocompatible hydrogels- specifically in the form of microgels- to achieve sustained-release of chemotherapeutic drugs for advanced and/or metastatic endometrial cancer.

Current projects include:

  • Vitamin encapsulation efficiency and release profiles
  • Analgesic loading and release for oralfacial pain relief
    • Collaborative project with Dr. Nikita Gupta, Assistant Professor of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Dr. Zach Hilt, Gill Eminent Professor of Chemical Engineering

Health equity in endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer (EC) is a cancer that has high mortality rates, and few chemotherapeutic options. In Black women, the mortality rate is almost twice as high as women of any other race. At early stages, EC can be treated very effectively with a full or partial hysterectomy. However, at later stages once the cancer has begun to spread, or in patients who are not offered or who refuse surgery, treatment becomes far less effective. Although we believe we can tackle this problem using sustained-release, we also believe that equitable access to healthcare and an equal treatment experience is necessary to reduce the health disparities in mortality rates.

Current projects include:

  •  Racial disparities in endometrial cancer mortality rates, a secondary data analysis
    • Collaborative project with Dr. Abby Folberg, Assistant Professor of Psychology (University of Nebraska at Omaha)