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Breaching and Building Biological Barriers: A Tale of Two Membranes

  • Date
    Mon, Feb 25

    2:00 PM — 3:15 PM

    Steinman Hall
    ST 160 - Lecture Hall

    Steinman Hall, 160 - Lecture Hall

    p: 212.650.5748


  • Event Details

    The Chemical Engineering Department would like to welcome Pankaj Karande from RPI

    Transport across membranes has interested chemical engineers for a long time. The fundamental understanding of membrane structure and function has been critical to the design of separation processes in many industrial systems. Biological barriers are nature’s membranes that regulate transport in physiological systems and provide compartmentalization of organ systems and tissues. It is often necessary to breach biological barriers during therapeutic interventions in disease for delivering drugs to organs or across tissues. Similarly, it is often necessary to rebuild barriers that have lost function or are destroyed by disease or injury. In this talk I will discuss two research directions in my group related to breaching and building biological membranes. The first focuses on breaching the blood brain barrier for delivery of drugs to the central nervous system. Brain is the most protected and privileged organ, and crossing the blood brain barrier has been a long-standing challenge in the treatment of brain disorders. We are exploiting natural transport pathways available to serum proteins for crossing the blood brain barrier. I will specifically discuss the design and discovery of peptides that bind to one such protein, transferrin, as a way of chaperoning drugs from systemic circulation into the brain. Peptide-mediated drug delivery to the brain is an attractive and significantly less invasive alternative to current methods of delivery using intracerebral catheters. In the second half of this talk, I will discuss the use of a novel fabrication technique called free form fabrication to build biological membranes from their constituent cells and matrices. We have developed an on-demand 3D printing platform to build a fully functional and viable human skin in a layer-by-layer fashion. Our preliminary studies demonstrate that this approach can reproduce many biological and morphological features of human skin. Printed human skin sections can be used as engineered grafts for treating burn victims as well as diabetics, or for screening topical agents for their inflammatory or immunological responses on skin.

    Prof. Karande joined the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Rensselaer in 2008. Before joining Rensselaer, Prof. Karande was a postdoctoral scholar in the Chemical Engineering Department and Center for Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He obtained his Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara in 2006 where his thesis work focused on the use of chemical enhancers for transdermal drug delivery. Prof. Karande has received numerous awards for his work including The Edison Award for best Product in Science and Medicine (2009), The Anna Fuller Fellowship in Molecular Oncology (2006-2007), Outstanding Pharmaceutical Paper by the Controlled Release Society (2005) and the Fionna Goodchild Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring (2004). Prof. Karande is an inventor on several patents in the area of Transdermal Formulation Discovery and Novel High Throughput Screening Platforms. He has served as scientific advisor to fqubed Inc., a soft materials innovation company (now part of Nuvo research).