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Biologic and Materials Sciences and Division of Prosthodontics

Kuroda Lab Current Research

BIOACTIVE POLYMERS AND MATERIALS RESEARCH

Research Interest:
Dr Kuroda's primary interest is to design and synthesize amphiphilic polymers/oligomers that can actively interact with cell membranes and use these compounds to understand polymer-lipid interactions by investigating the physical properties and biological activities of polymers in lipid layers. 

Research Topics: 
Dr. Kuroda's laboratory will study the membrane-disrupting action of antimicrobial polymers and the translocation of polymers as potential drug carriers. He will also focus on the creation of fluorescent oligomer probes to examine the morphology of lipids membrane, which may also be useful in monitoring cellular activity and conditions. These projects will provide insight into polymer-lipid interactions, aiding in the development of polymers as alternatives for antibiotics or drug/gene vectors and as imaging agents for the cell membranes. This research is highly interdisciplinary, involving the fields of synthetic polymer chemistry, biochemistry, and physical chemistry, and is oriented to the practical aspects of biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. 

Research Proposal:

  1. Antimicrobial Polymers: Membrane Disruption by Amphiphilic Polymers
    The aim of this project is to develop membrane-disrupting polymers and investigate the mechanism of their antimicrobial activity toward the creation of non-toxic antimicrobials for pharmaceutical applications and biomaterials. Synthetic polymers including polynorbornenes will be modified with cationic substituents and hydrophobic components. The structure-activity relationship will be studied by varying the chemical structures of polymers, and the antimicrobial mechanism will be investigated using biophysical methods and cellular assays. These studies will provide insight into the design parameters for those polymer structures that display differential lipid-polymer interactions, leading to selective toxicity to bacterial over human cells.
  2. Synthetic Cell-Penetrating Polymers
    Synthetic amphiphilic polymers will be modified with cationic amine groups and their derivatives including guanidinium to enhance cellular uptake of polymers, mimicking the structure of the natural cell-penetrating HIV-Tat peptide. Translocation across the membrane will be investigated to delineate the roles of polymer structures including cationic (guanidinium) side chains in the mechanism of internalization. These polymers can be utilized to efficiently deliver protein/peptide drugs, genes, or inorganic particles to both the cytosol and specific organelles.
  3. Conjugated Oligomers as Fluorescent Membrane Probes for Lipid Membranes
    This project will focus on designing and synthesizing fluorescent membrane probes to examine lipid membranes. The probes will be prepared using conjugated rigid-rod oligomers, and the partitioning of oligomers to the membranes will be evaluated by fluorescent techniques including fluorescence microscopy. These probes will be useful for cell imaging and monitoring of the cell membrane structure and morphology.

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