Alberto Guerra, Biotechnology Training Program Trainee


I’m Alberto Guerra I’m a fourth-year PhD student in pharmaceutical sciences and I’m a BTP trainee one of our recent publications is in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences Journal and this publication has to do with using a hydrogel delivery system or two polymer system to encapsulate stem cells and deliver them more efficiently to wounds the stem cells are able to secrete growth factors and cytokines and thanks to help heal the wound environment and the hydrogel helps keep the cells alive and what we actually ran into problems with was that that bacteria can adhere to the hydrogel surface and cause infection in these wounds and so we loaded the hydrogels with the antibiotic minocycline and not only did the antibiotic clear infection from the wounds but we actually showed enhanced the stem cells’ activity and enhanced their ability to heal wounds better a hydrogel is essentially a network that can trap sells drugs or peptides or any therapeutic agent that you want to control where it’s going the space where it’s going to be delivered to or how fast it’s coming out of the hydrogel and so what the hydrogel is is two different polymers or two different chemicals that are dissolved in a water or saline solution and under ultraviolet light they can cross link and when they cross link they can encapsulate the cells or drugs or peptides and you can actually crosslink this hydrogel directly on a wound or under the skin or directly at the therapeutic site to control where these cells and drugs are being delivered the research is important for hydrogels because drug delivery is a big aspect there’s a huge field in drug delivery as far as targeting precision medicine temporal release controlling where your drug is going and how fast the drug is going or your cells or any other therapeutic agent so what the hydrogels do is allowed to allow us to spatially control where we’re putting everything other drug delivery methods such as nanoparticles or antibody conjugation will help that therapeutic agent target to the site while ours is a spatial target so these other drug delivery applications you can inject through the through IV administration or through an oral administration and these extra agents on them will help find the therapeutic site but what we do is actually just put it directly on the site and the hydrogel keeps it in that local environment my thesis research is based around the hydrogel system and so we can actually use these for different therapeutic applications so not only is there the stem cell and antibiotic loading but we have another project in collaboration with our colleagues at Hong Kong University where we encapsulated m1 macrophages which is a specific type of white blood cell that we can put in the hydrogel and put directly on the liver to actually treat paracellular carcinoma or liver cancer and so what these macrophages are able to do is recognize that there’s cancer cells there and through the network they should secrete all these different molecules that are inflammatory and actually kill the tumor what we’ve shown is when we put the hydrogel directly by the liver tumor we can actually completely remove the tumor and prevent metastasis from the site BTP brings together all the disciplines and that helps a lot with my research because not only do I get exposure to other people’s fields but I can ask other students that are experts in other things that I might not know as much about especially after their seminars I can say hey I’m actually looking at this mechanism or I want to use this technique but I’m not an expert in it can you explain more and all of them always so helpful and they tell me exactly oh I can help you I can come to your lab and help you look at this or here’s this paper that explains it a lot better it’s a really good resource especially in interdisciplinary research to be able to learn how to use techniques without having to teach myself every single time I chose stay at the University of Wisconsin for two reasons one the pharmaceutical sciences program is very clinically focused and focused towards careers in industry but so is BTP and that was a big reason I chose the school as well that they give you exposure to the two industry before you actually go out and pursue careers (electronic music)