Natalie Jasiewicz, PhD
Cellular Networks for Enhanced Drug Retention and Accumulation at Target Site
Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Patients often experience dysregulated wound-healing and become at risk for long-term heart failure and poor cardiac function. Mesenchymal stem-cell-based therapies have been applied with only limited success and typically require invasive intracardiac injections. Furthermore, cell viability of these treatments is low and have poor retention at the infarct site. Therefore, the ability to administer a therapeutic that is minimally invasive but remains viable and localized at the infarct site is desperately needed. To address the inefficiencies of current therapies, we propose to develop a living drug depot that is composed of an in situ forming network of cells. When surface-decorated with heterodimerizing leucine zippers, these cells can be intravenously injected where they will crosslink to create a scaffold-free network that can remain at the infarct site, with consistent exosome release to promote cardiac tissue regeneration. This work will be the first to investigate a novel scaffold-free network of mesenchymal stem cells to create an injectable, in situ forming network with enhanced retention that can be used for the treatment of myocardial infarction.
This award has allowed me to focus solely on my dissertation research, engineering novel and translatable drug carriers for the treatment of myocardial infarction. This network, and the funding it provides, have been invaluable in my development as an independent investigator.