MIT Department: Biological Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: Howard University
Faculty Mentor: Mark Bathe
Research Supervisors: Molly Parsons, Tyson Shepherd, Rebecca Du
I am a junior Chemistry major, Mathematics and Biology minor at Howard University. My research interests include computational modeling, biomaterials, and nanotechnology. I want to develop nanoscale materials to treat neurodegenerative diseases through inhibiting misfolded protein aggregation and promoting tissue regeneration. I also want to ensure my work has universally-accessible translational impact. In my free time, I enjoy drawing, singing, reading, and playing tennis.
2018 Research Abstract
Messenger RNA Capture with Designer DNA Nanoparticles
Jaquesta Adams1, Molly Parsons2, Rebecca Du2, Tyson Shepherd2, and Mark Bathe2
1Department of Chemistry, Howard University
2Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive brain cancer. With modern treatments, life expectancy is generally 12-15 months, and quality of life decreases throughout. Messenger RNA (mRNA) have become the latest interest for treatment options. Such use is limited, though, by mRNA’s difficulty diffusing through cell membranes and vulnerability to nuclease degradation. We propose a systemic delivery approach in which the mRNA is enclosed and transported in a tunable, biocompatible DNA nanoparticle (DNA-NP). The goal of this project is to demonstrate capture of mRNA by a DNA-NP and the translational efficiency of the mRNA post-capture. We designed the DNA-NP using DAEDALUS, a lab-developed program, and modified for mRNA capture using Tiamat. The mRNA and DNA-NP were synthesized in vitro, bound by thermal annealing, and characterized via ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-Vis), gel electrophoresis (GE), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and translational testing. While UV-Vis and GE suggested successful mRNA synthesis for our fluorescent control mCherry, further work is needed to confirm synthesis, DNA-NP binding, and subsequent translation for our therapeutic mRNA. Future studies will also aim to modify the DNA-NP vehicle for targeted transport and release of the mRNA at glioblastoma sites.