Dr. Silvia Muro and Rasa Ghaffarian Win First Place in 2012 Professor Venture Fair

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version

Congratulations to Dr. Silvia Muro (BioE and Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research [IBBR]) and her mentee Rasa Ghaffarian for winning first place in the 2012 Professor Venture Fair at the University of Maryland Bioscience Research Day. Dr. Muro and Rasa won the competition for their presentation of a novel drug delivery strategy that uses targeted carriers capable of crossing the gastrointestinal epithelium. The delivery process, which takes advantage of the cells' natural behavior, is safe, fast, and efficient. Dr. Muro and Rasa presented the work at the Professor Venture Fair, an annual event that gives faculty inventors the opportunity to pitch their new technologies to a team of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from the region. Presenters are judged based upon clarity of pitch and commercial viability.

Dr. Muro’s innovation takes advantage of the gastrointestinal trans-epithelial pathway in order to provide transfer of orally administered exogenous molecules (therapeutic or diagnostic). Oral administration of drugs and therapeutics is usually preferred due to simplicity, low cost, comfort, and higher level of patient compliance. However, in many cases, only a fraction of the dose swallowed ever reaches its target due to the harsh environment of the digestive system. This is particularly true for biological therapeutics that cannot be currently administered by the oral route. Muro’s group has been able to overcome this obstacle by strategically and effectively targeting biologicals to the GI epithelial cells to provide safe and speedy transport with no negative effect on the GI permeability.

"We are proud to have this invention recognized in such a prestigious forum," says Muro. "It's a culmination of years of effort in what we believe to be a very important therapeutic intervention. There is no doubt that since oral drug delivery means less discomfort for patients, this discovery will be able to enhance oral (biological) therapies as well as the safe targeting of drug delivery carriers.” This methodology also holds great potential as a general platform of gastrointestinal delivery into the circulation and the treatment of gastrointestinal epithelial cells involved in infections, inflammatory conditions and cancer. The delivery system also holds promise for other applications, such as the oral delivery of therapeutics for lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs), protein-based therapeutics for Alzheimer’s treatment, small molecular drugs for treatment of genetic conditions and treatments against inflammation, thrombosis and oxidative stress.

Dr. Muro’s laboratory focuses mainly on mechanisms of endocytic vesicular transport, including their role in physiology and disease and their translational application for the controlled delivery of nano-scale therapeutics. The research is sponsored by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

For More Information:

See: Rasa Ghaffarian, Tridib Bhowmick, and Silvia Muro. Transport of nanocarriers across gastrointestinal epithelial cells by a new transcellular route induced by targeting ICAM-1, Journal of Controlled Release, Volume 163, Issue 1, 10 October 2012, Pages 25-33.