Ekua Beneman

MIT Department: Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Jeremiah Johnson
Undergraduate Institution: Spelman College
Website: LinkedIn
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Biography


My name is Ekua Beneman and I am a junior Biochemistry major at Spelman College. My career aspirations are to become an ob/gyn and work on gynecologic cancers. I hope to open research laboratories that will provide treatments for women with gynecologic cancers globally at a low and efficient cost. I also plan to use my laboratories as a place for underrepresented students to fill the gap between themselves and their more privileged counterparts. My hobbies are exploring new restaurants, reading, shopping and hanging out with friends.


2021 Abstract

Catalytic Living Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization (ROMP)

Ekua Beneman1, David Lundberg2, and Jeremiah Johnson2
1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Spelman College
2Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The ability to deliver drugs for cancer treatment with improved efficacy and decreased toxicity is vital to treat new diseases. Specifically, bottlebrush-based polymer architecture pro-drugs have been demonstrated as an effective platform for drug delivery. Ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) is one of the best methods used to make bottlebrush-based polymers due to its efficiency and functional group tolerance. However, living ROMP requires a stoichiometric use of a Ruthenium based catalyst which leads to relatively high levels of metal in the final product. The metal content of the bottlebrush drug delivery materials limits dosing. This prevents these from being used in a wider variety of drug delivery applications where higher or more frequent doses of material are required for effective treatment. Catalytic living ROMP has been proposed as a method to make these types of polymers using 100-1000x less catalyst and lower metal loadings. The application of using catalytic living ROMP to these bottlebrush architectures for drug delivery would represent a big advance to expand economical production of these drugs. Towards this end, we are exploring new synthetic methodologies to develop chain transfer agents to conduct catalytic living ROMP. Using these new methods will allow us to make different chain transfer agents relatively quickly and determine structure property relationships of those chain transfer agents for catalytic living ROMP.

The ability to deliver drugs for cancer treatment with improved efficacy and decreased toxicity is vital to treating new diseases and enhancing the utility of developed drugs. Specifically, the Johnson group has shown that bottlebrush polymer architecture pro-drugs are an effective platform for drug delivery because of their synthetic modularity through Ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP). ROMP enables the synthesis of bottlebrush polymers while achieving near quantitative conversion. However, ROMP requires stoichiometric use of a Ruthenium catalyst which results in relatively high levels of metal in the final products. This residual metal content of the bottlebrush drug delivery materials made through ROMP prevents their use in a wider variety of applications where higher or more frequent doses of material are required. Catalytic living ROMP has been proposed as a method to make these types of polymers using 100-1000x less catalyst and lower metal loadings using a chain transfer agent (CTA). The application of catalytic living ROMP to these bottlebrush architectures for drug delivery would thus be advantageous. Towards this end, we are exploring new routes to synthesize CTAs to conduct catalytic living ROMP.