ChBE Seminar Series–Dr. Norma A. Alcantar

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In addition to its annual lectures, ChBE hosts a weekly seminar throughout the year with invited lecturers who are prominent in their fields. Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are held on Wednesdays in the Molecular Science and Engineering Building ("M" Building) in G011 (Cherry Logan Emerson Lecture Theater) at 4:00 p.m. Refreshments are served at 3:30 p.m. in the Emerson-Lewis Reception Salon.


Elucidating Property-Structure Relationships of Biological Systems: Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease, Flocculation And Drug Delivery Systems

The use of microscopy techniques in combination with spectroscopy has allowed fundamental insights into structure-function relationships in biological systems. We have used this combination of techniques in a wide array of relevant area including the study of therapeutic techniques and processing protocols to answer key questions in Alzheimer's disease, the use of natural flocculants in water remediation, and the study of composite drug delivery systems for sustained release.

The first project centers on understanding the effect of different monoclonal antibodies targeting protein aggregation and adhesion of amyloid beta (Aß) peptides. These peptides are the main component of neuritic plaques in patients with (AD). In our lab, we have elucidated the morphological changes of such peptides during their aggregation, as well as the adhesion of this peptide's aggregates into AD plaques. We found that dissolution of Aß plaques is a function of the antibody concentration and chemistry. Also, it is possible to induce disaggregation if therapeutics are used while the progression of the plaque formation is taking place.

The second project focuses on obtaining the action mechanisms involved in removing contaminants such as heavy metals, bacteria and sediments from water using natural materials. For instance, we have found that depending on the extraction procedure to obtain natural surfactants, different nanostructural arrays are possible that show variations in their performance. Depending on the surfactant concentration and the nature of the contaminant, we have been able to enhance rates of aggregation to induce efficient removal of pollutants, and we have been able to determine mechanisms of action that occurs in water columns treated with natural flocculants.

Finally, these techniques have also led us to quantify the forces and interactions taking place between a novel drug delivery system dealing with immobilizing drug encapsulated non-ionic surfactant vesicles (niosomes) in a temperature sensitive cross-linked hydrogel. We have studied how size and shape of the niosomes and structural changes in the hydrogel network can be tuned to enhance control on drug dosage and release time of chemotherapeutics.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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  • Created By: Tommie Taylor
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Feb 25, 2013 - 6:25am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 10:02pm