Skip to main content
Presentation Time: 11:05-11:25
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Brianna Vickerman, Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
Program: McNair
Research Title: Assessment of Loading Tissue Plasminogen Activator into Human Red Blood Cells for the Improved Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases

Due to the unfortunately ubiquitous and deadly nature of cardiovascular diseases by blood clots, especially strokes and myocardial infarctions, the matter of finding effective treatments is of high priority. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only drug treatment that is FDA approved to break up blood clots. Despite tPA being considered the gold standard for clot dissolution, this protein therapeutic has severe drawbacks including a short treatment window and deadly off-target effects due to high dosage requirements. From previous experimentation, red blood cells (RBCs) were found to be excellent carriers to protect therapeutics from premature clearance in vivo. Encapsulating tPA inside of RBCs could reduce side effects and allow less therapeutic to be administered overall, ultimately increasing the safety and utility of this treatment. We investigated two methods of loading tPA into RBCs, one using a direct high salt addition to restore the cells to isotonicity while the other used a more gradual resealing process. The purpose of this study was to determine which method resulted in a higher internal concentration of tPA and greater consistent loadings on different days. Data was collected using an Invitrogen ELISA kit. The results indicated that the direct method is preferred due to the lower level of variability in the amount of tPA loaded despite the decreased tPA amount loaded. Further experimentation is ongoing to substantiate these preliminary findings.