Letícia Costa

MIT Department: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institution: Wesleyan University

Faculty Mentor: Jeremiah Johnson

Research Supervisor: Peyton Shieh

Website: LinkedIn

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Biography

I’m an international student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m a rising junior majoring in Chemistry at Wesleyan University, where I work on computational modeling and molecule system comprehension research. The aim of my project is to gain an understanding of the transduction of ligand binding energy into allosteric signal transmission for proteins. After some experience in the Chemistry department, my biggest aspiration is to lead research on organic and sustainable chemistry. I aspire to obtain a PhD, and return to Brazil, in order to increase the scientific development of my country. Aside from academics, I enjoy traveling, watching tv series, reading novels in Portuguese, and spending time with my friends.

2017 Poster Presentation

2017 Research Abstract

Exploring the Role of PEG Architecture in Brush-Arm Star Polymer Nanoparticles

Letícia C. Costa, Department of Chemistry, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459, USA

Peyton Shieh, Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139 Jeremiah A. Johnson,

The goal of cancer chemotherapy is to completely eliminate cancerous cells, but chemotherapy is often ultimately ineffective and cancer recurrence occurs. Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems are an attractive solution. These drug delivery systems may enable the cancer drugs to only be released at the site of the cancer, significantly minimizing side effects. One specific class of nanoparticle drug delivery system are polymer-drug conjugates, which enable the targeting and accumulation of drugs at the site of the cancer. These polymer therapeutics are largely composed of polyethylene glycol (PEG), a non-toxic, flexible, water-soluble, and hydrodynamic compound. Linear PEG has commonly been used to increase drug stability and solubility and increase circulation time. Recent studies have demonstrated that cyclic polymers can outperform their linear equivalents, due the formation of a denser and more compact brush shell, preventing aggregation and non-specific interactions. Our project focused on strategies to introduce different polymer architecture onto nanoparticle platforms and to ultimately assess their performance in living systems. Towards this end, we synthesized monomers containing branched and cyclic PEG that can be incorporated into brush-arm star polymer nanoparticles. We evaluated the performance of polymer nanoparticles containing these monomers in terms of stability to aggregation and non-specific protein adsorption. Our experiments suggest that better PEG polymer brush shells can be developed, leading to a more stable performance of bio-imaging and drug-delivery systems.