New research by University of Texas at Dallas scientists could help solve a major challenge in the deployment of certain COVID-19 vaccines worldwide — the need for the vaccines to be kept at below-freezing temperatures during transport and storage.
In a study
published online April 13 in Nature Communications
, the researchers demonstrate a new, inexpensive technique that generates crystalline exoskeletons around delicate liposomes and other lipid nanoparticles and stabilizes them at room temperature for an extended period — up to two months — in their proof-of-concept experiments.
The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines use lipid nanoparticles — basically spheres of fat molecules — to protect and deliver the messenger RNA that generates a vaccine recipient’s immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
University of Texas at Dallas researchers are breathing new life into an old MRI contrast agent by attaching it to a plant virus and wrapping it in a protective chemical cage.
The novel strategy is aimed at developing a completely organic and biodegradable compound that would eliminate the need to use heavy metals such as gadolinium in contrast agents, said Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith
, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry
in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
and corresponding author of a study
published Feb. 5 in the journal Chemical Science
, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
When it comes to the way scientists react to their discoveries, “That’s interesting” falls somewhere between “Eureka!” and “Uh-oh.”
“Interesting” is just what Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith and his graduate student Madushani Dharmarwardana thought when they noticed unusual behavior in a sample of crystals they were working with in Gassensmith’s chemistry lab at The University of Texas at Dallas.
As part of her doctoral research, Dharmarwardana was investigating how the material, from a family of organic semiconducting materials called naphthalene diimides, changes color from orange to yellow as it is heated.
Over time, viruses have evolved very efficient methods for making us sick, but a UT Dallas researcher thinks that same efficiency could be exploited to improve human health.
Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, recently received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation to investigate the use of viruses for precisely delivering therapeutic drugs to the body.
The five-year, $500,000 grant supports work that is a continuation of research originally done by two doctoral students in Gassensmith’s lab — Zhuo Chen and Candace Benjamin. Both will play lead roles in the new project.
When UT Dallas students in an analytical chemistry class complained that the labs were too boring, course instructor Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith turned the tables on them.
“I said, ‘Make me an awesome lab and I’ll integrate it into the course,’ ” said Gassensmith, an assistant professor of chemistry.
The undergraduates responded by creating an experiment in which they hack the ingredients of impostor fragrances using a technique called mass spectroscopy and a database of known chemical compounds.