Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Cell and Molecular Biology
Taylor Washington - University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Co-Author(s): Xiao-Qi Wang and Katherine Lewandowksi, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease that affects approximately 2% of the population. The cause of this disorder is currently unknown, but studies suggest that tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is important for inflammatory cell activation and recruitment of infiltrate to psoriatic plaques. TNF inhibitors given by subcutaneous injection are one of the current effective treatments for this disease and have been shown to cause irritation and adverse side effects. Recently, researchers have discovered a potentially effective nucleic acidbased therapy using liposomal (L) and self-assembling (SA) spherical nucleic acid (SNAs) conjugates. SNAs have been shown to penetrate biological barriers, enter cells easily, resist nuclease degradation, and control targeted gene expression without observed toxicity, immune activation, or off target effects. Our study investigated the effectiveness of the topical application of L- and SA SNAs to suppress TNF-α expression in a mouse psoriasis model with an expectation of preventing abnormal immune response and inhibiting the development of a psoriatic phenotype. Treated mouse skin was cut in 4-μm sections for H & E staining and examined under a light microscope to identify significant skin thickening and infiltrate presence. Although preliminary studies from our lab have shown promising effects of topical therapy targeting TNF-α with L- and SA SNAs, results from my study showed that neither L- nor SA SNAs were able to completely prevent the development of a psoriatic-like phenotype. Further investigation is needed to develop a more effective and consistent way of applying these treatments in a mouse psoriasis model to properly test the effectiveness of targeting TNF-α topically using these SNAs.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program at Northwestern International Institute for Nanotechnology
Faculty Advisor: Jim Winter,