On Nov. 1, 2018, a research grant for $25,000 has been awarded to the research project: Aptameric Targeting of CD19 B-lymphocyte Transmembrane Receptor via Molecular Simulations for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Therapy.

The grant was awarded through the inaugural competition of the Collaborative Research Grant initiative, a partnership between UTC, the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga and the Erlanger Health System. The research team is led by UTC’s Dr. Michael Danquah, professor and director of the university’s chemical engineering program and Erlanger’s Dr. Manoo Bhakta, a pediatric oncologist.

Researchers are seeking ways to improve the targeting mechanism used in therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They are investigating how unique DNA molecules called aptamers can improve the targeting efficiency of chemotherapy drugs in order to minimize side effects from treatment. Improving the targeting capabilities of these aptamers can help therapy drugs more easily navigate to specific cancer sites.

The design of smart-targeted drug-delivery systems for acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment is a national and global competitive effort, and this project will elevate the research capabilities and recognition of UTC and Erlanger. By using novel biomedical technologies to improve disease treatment and community healthcare, the project also will promote the strategic research missions of the UTC-Erlanger collaboration.

The project is at the cutting-edge of biomedical engineering, drawing knowledge from medicine, engineering and science to deliver solutions to the challenges facing acute lymphoblastic leukemia therapy.

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