Northeastern University

Eric Schaar

Biochemistry, '24

Lipid Nanoparticles for the Delivery of Tumor Suppressor mRNA

Mentor: Jinjun Shi, Ph.D.

Institution: Brigham and Women's Hospital

My project in the Shi Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is centered around the delivery of mRNA for the restoration of tumor suppressor pathways. Many different cancers are caused by mutations in tumor suppressor genes such as P53 or PTEN that render their proteins nonfunctional causing unmediated cell replication. The delivery of tumor suppressor mRNA can help restore these pathways to treat various forms of cancers. However, nucleic acids degrade quickly inside the body and need some form of delivery platform to allow them to reach their targets. Our project involves the use of a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) platform that encapsulates the mRNA, shielding it from degradation so that it can reach its target within cancer cells. The Shi Lab has already had success in developing NP platforms to do this. I will be working to improve upon current LNP formulations to develop a therapeutic that combines this mRNA therapy with immunotherapy to achieve a potent anti-tumor effect. To do so we will first need to develop and optimize the new particle formulations to ensure the particles have a sufficient size and mRNA encapsulation. We will also test the efficiency and viability of the particles in cell cultures using cancerous cell lines. This project will allow me to develop various laboratory skills such as nanoparticle synthesis methods (e.g., nanoprecipitation, and microfluidics), cell culture technique, HPLC, flow cytometry, western blot, and cell viability and transfection assays, while hopefully leading to the development of a highly efficient new cancer therapy

CaNCURE Research Presentation:

Image of LNP structure from the National Cancer Institute