(6ee) Bioengineering New Solutions for Pediatric Diseases: Platforms to Improve the Treatment of Brain Tumors and Juvenile Diabetes

Authors: 
Veiseh, O., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pediatric brain tumors and juvenile diabetes (Type I) represent two of the most devastating diseases afflicting children. While significant advances have been made to improve the survival rate of patients afflicted with both diseases these solutions are often at a cost to the overall quality of life for survivors. We foresee tremendous opportunity to utilize the latest advances in Biomedical and Chemical Engineering to develop new solutions that specifically address current challenges faced in the management of pediatric brain tumors and juvenile diabetes. 

The first part of my poster will describe the work completed during my Ph.D. at the University of Washington, which was aimed towards the development of multifunctional nanoparticles to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of medulloblastoma (MB) tumors, the most common form of brain tumor afflicting children. Currently, children afflicted with MB require aggressive neurosurgery and the success for tumor resection depends on the accuracy of tumor margin delineation, of which current techniques demonstrate variable success. Biological barriers continue to limit access of therapeutics and contrast agents to tumor cells. To overcome these limitations, we are developing tumor-specific, optical/MR imaging nanoparticles specifically engineered to transverse biological barriers and aid in the diagnosis, staging, resection of brain tumors, and delivery of therapeutics to brain tumors.

The second part of my poster will focus my current postdoctoral research project in Professor Robert Langer’s lab at MIT aimed towards the engineering of a bioartifical pancreas. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of all diabetes cases, is typified by a complete deficiency of insulin production, and stems from an autoimmune response in affected individuals that leads to the T-cell mediated destruction of insulin producing β-cells localized in the pancreas. Exogenous cell therapy, in the form of islet transplantation has been intensely investigated as a method to restore glycemic control. However, due to host rejection of transplanted cells and the lack of suitable encapsulation materials or specific immunosuppressive therapies it’s widespread clinical application has been limited. Our efforts have been two fold and focused on both understanding the mechanism by which current encapsulation materials become rejected and innovating novel superbiocompatible materials that can mediate foreign body reactions and fibrosis. Significantly, we have developed a prototype device that is able to treat diabetic rodents for over 6 month.