Chelsea H. 2024 | BASIS Independent McLean
- Project Title: Fabricating Silk Fibroin Microspheres for Drug Delivery in Treatment of Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome (NRDS)
- Basis Independent Advisor: Dr. Hartman
- Internship Location: Georgetown Nanotech and Biomedical Device Lab
- Onsite Mentor: Professor Makarand Paranjape
Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome (NRDS) is a breathing disorder that is the leading cause of death in premature infants. It occurs when an infant is unable to produce enough lung surfactant, causing insufficient oxygen exchange and lung collapse. The prevailing treatment for NRDS is delivering natural animal pulmonary surfactant to the lungs to affect oxygenation and lung compliance. Known as INtubation-SURfactant Extubation (INSURE), this procedure unfortunately involves an unstandardized protocol and is often inefficient and ineffective due to its inability to maximize the delivery of lung surfactant to the alveoli. However, emerging studies have suggested that a more effective approach to drug delivery is administration through microspheres, as aerosolized microspheres containing the drug can maximize the surface area of the lung that is exposed to the surfactant. Specifically, Silk Fibroin (SF) best facilitates microspheres drug delivery, as SF is biocompatible and requires little resources to fabricate. In my research at the Georgetown Nanotech and Biomedical Device Lab, I hope to introduce a protocol for designing SF microspheres containing CUROSURF®, a popular pulmonary surfactant, through the simple yet effective process of phase separation between SF and Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). I will optimize my protocol by iterating the procedure based on observations and characterizations of the resulting microspheres. With this research, I hope to offer insight into a new method of drug delivery for treating NRDS in infants that addresses the long-standing issues of lung surfactant delivery experienced in today’s intensive care nurseries.