Manufacture and Validation of Advanced Cell Culture Inserts; Too Rare to Care: Efforts to Promote Orphan Drug Development in the United States

Davis, Meredith, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Christ, George, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Costella, Lauren, Luna Labs USA
Earle, Joshua, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Technical Topic:

Manufacture and Validation of Advanced Cell Culture Inserts

My technical project is the manufacture, optimization, and validation of electrospun nanofiber membranes used in cell culture inserts for advanced cell culture applications. My teammates for this project were Sarah Grasmeder, Eric Donohue, and Sania Saeed. We partnered with Dr. George Christ in the UVA biomedical engineering department and Lauren Costella at Luna Labs to build off the previous work done on Luna Labs’ RESORB cell culture insert project. The purpose of this project was to create a more biomimetic substrate for cell culture to promote cell adhesion and proliferation and addresses the need for more realistic in vitro cell models. Due to the customizability of electrospinning, these inserts can be modified to fit the needs of many cell culture applications and can be applied to different fields of biomedical research such as tissue engineering and pharmaceutical development. Using mammalian cell culture protocols and electrospinning methods, we conducted a series of trials to optimize a staining protocol to characterize cell viability on electrospun membranes. Based on this protocol, we tested the effects of plasma treating membranes on cell viability and experimentally evaluated four different membrane chemistries for compatibility with myoblast cell culture.

STS Research Topic:

Too Rare to Care: Efforts to Promote Orphan Drug Development in the United States

My STS research paper explores the dynamic relationships between governmental agencies, patient advocacy groups, and pharmaceutical companies and how these relationships can be used to increase orphan drug development. As defined by the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) of 1983, orphan drugs are those used to treat rare diseases affecting less than 200,000 people in the US. Drug development is often an expensive, long, and risky process. In order to mitigate risk and receive the best return on investment, pharmaceutical companies typically focus on developing common blockbuster drugs that can be used to treat large populations of affected individuals. Because of this, orphan drugs are historically underdeveloped. Since the creation of the ODA, the production of orphan drugs has greatly increased and continues to rise. I argue that this increase is the direct effect of mutual alliances formed by participants. Using the individual resources available to each participant group, they cultivate an environment in which all participants can achieve their agendas through the promotion of orphan drug development.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Orphan drugs, Cell culture inserts, Electrospinning

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Technical Advisors: Dr. George Christ and Lauren Costella
STS Advisors: Dr. Joshua Earle and Dr. Peter Norton
Technical Team Members: Eric Donohue, Sarah Grasmeder, and Sania Saeed

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Issued Date: