Professor Benoit receives University of Maine Francis Crowe Engineering Alumni Award
Sunday, May 13, 2018
From left to right: Professor Hemant Pends, Professor Danielle Benoit, Dean Dana Humphrey
Professor Danielle Benoit was presented with the 2018 University of Maine Francis Crowe Engineering Alumni Award during the University’s graduation ceremonies on May 12. The award, presented by Hermant P. Pendse, chair of chemical and biomedical engineering and Dana N. Humphrey, dean of the college of engineering, recognizes outstanding service to the field of engineering. As a distinguished member of the Francis Crowe Society, Professor Benoit will now be known as Distinguished Engineer Danielle S.W. Benoit, Ph.D., ‘02.
Professor Benoit receives Drug Development Award from UR Ventures
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Professor Danielle Benoit, along with Profs. Rudi Fasan and Ben Frisch, received a Drug Development Award from UR Ventures for their project entitled, "Synergistic agents to normalize the marrow niche and potentiate AML cytotoxic agents.” The goal of this drug discovery lead study application is to perform pharmacokinetics/biodistribution and preliminary efficacy studies for a new AML drug therapy involving one repurposed FDA approved drug (Maraviroc, to prime the microenvironment for cytotoxic agents, identified as a potential AML-acting drug by Prof. Frisch) and a new selective antileukemic drug entity (micheliolide-64, a cytotoxic agent developed by Prof. Fasan). Data will provide initial assessments of the therapeutic potential of a new, synergistic treatment based on bone marrow-directed delivery of marrow priming agents and AML cell-targeting cytotoxic agents. As these drugs suffer from significant delivery barriers hindering efficacy they are loaded into a targeted drug delivery system developed by Prof. Benoit. Critical towards these studies is the bone marrow microenvironment and AML therapy development expertise of Prof. Frisch.
Jomy Varghese successful defends thesis
Friday, April 20, 2018
Jomy Varghese successfully defended his thesis April 19, 2018. Jomy’s thesis is entitled, "Salivary Gland Radiation Protection”.
Kenneth Sims wins SFB STAR Award
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Kenneth Sims Jr. will present his 15 minute oral presentation on "Enhancing Design of Nanoparticles for Anti-Biofilm Drug Delivery" during the "Racing for the Surface: Recent Development in Antimicrobial and Osteoinductive Biomaterials" session of the Society for Biomaterials 2018 Annual Meeting and Exposition: Exploring the Nexus of Research and Application being held in Atlanta, GA, April 11-14, 2018.
About the STAR award: The Society For Biomaterials presents Student Travel Achievement Recognitions (STAR) awards for outstanding abstracts submitted by students. These STARs present a major opportunity to recognize research excellence and develop future leaders within the Society. This award of $250 is intended to help off-set travel expenses to the meeting.
Maureen Newman Wins International Section for Fracture Repair Podium Award
Monday, April 2, 2018
Maureen Newman’s podium presentation at the annual Orthopaedic Research Society meeting " Development of Bone-Targeted Polymer Conjugates of Wnt/β-catenin Agonists to Stimulate Fracture Healing" was awarded the International Section for Fracture Repair Podium Award. Congratulations Maureen!
Marian Ackun-Farmmer receives Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Marian Ackun-Farmmer, a Ph.D. candidate in Danielle Benoit's lab, has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for her project titled “Nanoparticle mediated microenvironmental targeting of CCL3 signaling for the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia.”
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a public health concern that kills 2% of children and 70% of adults over the age of 65 diagnosed worldwide. This project is taking an unprecedented approach of treating AML by using a drug delivery approach to prime the bone marrow so that AML is less likely to evade standard chemotherapy. The proposed plan is expected to improve AML patient survival and will lead to development of a novel, versatile marrow-targeted system that is applicable for other types of leukemia and marrow associated diseases.
Yuchen Wang successful defends thesis
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Recent PhD graduate Yuchen Wang successfully defended her thesis in January and is now employed at PaxVax as a Research Scientist. Yuchen’s research project was titled, "Development of Controlled Release Systems for Fracture-Targeted Therapeutic Delivery.”
Fracture healing is a major clinical challenge, with a 10-20% impaired healing rate, resulting in significantly prolonged hospitalization, decreased quality of life, and substantial healthcare costs. Currently, myriad therapeutics that target various mechanisms and signaling pathways have been developed to augment fracture healing. Apart from bone morphogenic protein (BMP) implants, there are currently no FDA approved fracture healing enhancement drugs on the market. A major challenge of the bench side to bedside translation is efficient drug delivery. This motivates the goal of this dissertation, which is to develop successful drug delivery systems that can overcome critical barriers to realize clinical translation. Drug delivery barriers to bone fracture enhancement therapies include short half-life in vivo, non-specific accumulation in healthy tissue, as well as associated side effects. The studies herein provide strategies for local and systemic drug delivery. Specifically, the local delivery system in this thesis consists of polymer-based hydrogels loaded with siRNA/nanoparticle (NP) complexes. The local drug delivery system takes advantages of the NP’s ability to protect siRNA and facilitate cell uptake, and the hydrogel’s ability to localize and sustain the encapsulated content at the fracture site. Results showed controlled release of siRNA/NPs complexes from hydrogels through hydrolytic degradation. Localization of NPs at fracture was associated with degradation rates of hydrogels such that hydrogels with the slowest degradation rates yielded longer localization at fracture. Hydrogels that delivered siNRA/NP for ~ 1 month were implanted in a murine fracture model, and in vivo gene silencing efficiency indicated potent and expedited healing. In the systemic drug delivery system, polymeric NPs with bone-targeting peptides conjugated onto the NP corona were used to realize bone targeting efficacy. Potent fracture-targeting efficiency was observed, and NPs accumulated at fractures for ~ 7 days. NPs loaded with a small molecule GSK-3β inhibitor and showed fracture site-specific β-catenin agonism, enhanced bone mechanical properties, and faster healing rates. Taken together, the two drug delivery strategies explored here establish solid platforms for design of next generation drug delivery systems to fracture.
Maureen Newman will be recognized for her research at 2018 Annual ORS Conference
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Maureen Newman will be honored for her work titled, "Development of Bone-Targeted Polymer Conjugates of Wnt/β-Catenin Agonists to Stimulate Fracture Healing" during the spotlight session at the 2018 Annual Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) Conference on March 10th, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.