Valeria Juarez

MIT Department: Chemical Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at San Antonio
Faculty Mentor: Paula Hammond
Research Supervisor: Dr Natalie Boehnke
Website: LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I am a junior Biomedical Engineering major at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) from Alamo, Texas. My research interests are in biomaterials for drug delivery and nanotechnology. My career goal is to obtain a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and continue as a professor or research scientist in my field. Outside of school, I like to watch films, make mosaic art and perform with my A cappella group on my campus.

2019 Research Abstract

Evaluating the Structure of p32 Targeting Peptides on Nanoparticle Uptake by Ovarian Cancer Cells

Valeria M. Juarez1, Kate Dolph2, Natalie Boehnke3 and Paula T. Hammond3,4

1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio
2Department of Biology and Department of Chemistry, Wellesley College
3Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women with no observed improvements in survival rates in the past decades. There is a need to develop effective and targeted treatments for this malignancy. Layer-by-layer (LbL) nanoparticles (NP) have shown great efficacy in targeted anticancer drug delivery, and addition of tumor penetrating peptides (TPPs) onto NP surfaces is a further strategy to improve nanoparticle accumulation in tumor sites. TPPs like LyP-1 and linTT1 target p32, a receptor that is overexpressed on the surface of ovarian cancer cells. The purpose of this work is to compare the effects that LyP-1 and linTT1 have on nanoparticle uptake in ovarian cancer cell lines, OVCAR8 and COV362. To do this, we electrostatically adsorbed these TPPs onto a series of LbL-NPs, comprised of an anionic liposome core, poly-L-arginine, and four distinct polyanionic outer layers. To quantify the amount of TPP on the particles, a fluorescence-based assay was utilized. We found that higher peptide loading was obtained for NPs with polysaccharide-based outer layers than for polypeptide-based outer layers. The TPP containing LbL-NPs were incubated with OVCAR8 and COV362 cells, and, using flow cytometry, we found that adsorption of LyP-1 and linTT1 onto LbL-NP surfaces resulted in improved NP-cell association. Our findings suggest that addition of TPPs has an effect on LbL-NP uptake, which could potentially improve therapeutic outcomes for ovarian cancer patients.