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Trine team receives grant to assist with research into potential blood clotting treatment

A team of Trine University biomedical engineering faculty and students has received a grant for $15,000 from the Indiana Space Grant Consortium (INSGC) for a research project involving a potential treatment for blood clotting disorders.

The group has engineered nanoparticles to carry thrombin, an enzyme that assists in blood clotting, in the hope that these particles can be a viable treatment for those who suffer from disorders where blood does not clot properly.

“There is a charge on the nanoparticle shell that is attractive for proteins to adsorb into the surface of,” said Trine senior Alexander Pessell from Arcadio, Ohio. “We take advantage of that by adding the enzyme and allowing it to adsorb onto the outermost surface, exposing the enzyme to interact with platelets in the blood and fibrinogen (a clotting factor) in the blood vessels.”

In addition to Pessell, the team includes seniors Kayle Riley, from Coldwater, Michigan; Anthony Geraci, from Cincinnati, Ohio; and Kennedy Baugh, from Walton, Kentucky; and faculty Melanie G. Watson, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Max Gong, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

The team is working to design a device that will mimic the structure and function of human blood vessels to test the nanoparticles. The team also hopes to develop a similar device that will mimic the structure and function of human kidneys.

“The ultimate goal is to research a technique that could eventually be translated by other researchers in the field to help people who suffer from hemophilia or other blood clotting disorders, or for those who need to clot their blood fast,” Pessell said.

The grant will be used to purchase supplies, reagents and lab equipment, and provide registration to biomedical engineering-related conferences.

For a related senior design project, the students, with Watson serving as advisor, will use a 3D bioprinter in Trine’s Jim and Joan Bock Department of Biomedical Engineering to create structures that simulate human tissues with capillaries, in order to test the nanoparticles.

The students have been selected to present a poster on their research during the virtual annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Oct. 14-17.

The poster, titled “Platelet Aggregation Techniques Utilizing Biotinylated Thrombin via Iron Oxide Nanoparticle Carriers,” will be available to view by attendees during and after the meeting, with multiple opportunities to answer questions and connect with attendees about the research.

The students also will present their work virtually at the International MicroTAS conference. Held Oct. 4-9, the conference focuses on miniaturized systems for chemistry and life sciences.

The Indiana Space Grant Consortium was created in 1991 under NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. The Space Grant national network includes organizations working to expand opportunities for Americans to learn about and participate in NASA’s aeronautics and space projects by supporting and enhancing science and engineering education, research and public outreach efforts.

Photo: A Trine University team is researching a potential treatment for blood clotting disorders. Front, from left, Melanie G. Watson, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering, serves as advisor for the senior design team of biomedical engineering majors Kayle Riley, Kennedy Baugh; back, Anthony Geraci and Alexander Pessell. The group is also working with Max Gong, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering.