Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"TOPRS: Polymer-based Therapeutics for Treatment of Obesity and Diabetes"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Full-Year 2016 - DURI
Research area(s):
Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Research Sciences
Project Description:
Obesity and diabetes are increasing social problems worldwide. A major cause of obesity and diabetes is over-eating, which results in an excess amount of fat or lipid accumulation in adipose tissues consisting of white and brown adipocytes. Commercial anti-obesity drugs acting in the gastrointestinal tract or the central nervous system have been shown poor therapeutic effectiveness, accompanied by severe side effects. Compelling evidence demonstrates that activation of the classical brown adipose and the recently identified beige adipose can effectively reduce risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes. It has been discovered that systemic inhibition of Notch signaling by intraperitoneal injection of γ-secretase inhibitors helped turn white fat (which stores calories) into brown fat (which burns calories), named browning, in overweight mice, thereby reducing adiposity and improving insulin sensitivity. However, the translational impact of this treatment may be hindered by potential safety and efficacy concerns over uncontrolled delivery of γ-secretase inhibitors. Consequently, an adipose tissue-targeted vehicle is necessary to make highly effective anti-obesity drugs. In this project, novel polymer-based delivery system will be prepared and characterized. In vitro drug control release will be also investigated. The efficacy of the polymer-based system to induce browning of white adipose and ameliorate obesity in mice will be evaluated. Such a controlled delivery system will provide a foundation for the development of new therapeutic strategies to reduce adiposity and the risk of obesity-related metabolic syndrome in humans.
Expected Student Contributions:
Our research group welcomes highly motivated undergraduate students to learn and make contributions in bioengineering research. The intern will closely work with a postdoctoral fellow in our lab and assist in the synthesis, characterization, and optimization of novel polymer-based system to achieve appropriate combination of physico-chemical and biological properties. The student will also gain experience in adipocyte cell culture as well as characterization of cell responses to the drug delivery system both in vitro and in vivo.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
GPA > 3.5. Highly motivated, responsible, and dedicated learner and researcher.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Deng, Meng
agricultural and biological engineering

Student Supervisor

Liangju Kuang

Cooperating Faculty

Shihuan Kuang
Animal Sciences