Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access


Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Faculty Mentor

Samantha Wilner

Student Contributor

Emily Bender


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

As new medications are invented, many of which are hydrophobic (insoluble in water), reliable methods of administration must be developed since these drugs cannot travel through the bloodstream. If an insoluble drug is administered to a patient, the likelihood of the required dosage reaching its target is low, thus making the medication ineffective. Micelles, which are spherical aggregates of lipid monomers with a hydrophilic surface and a hydrophobic core, are capable of encapsulating drugs, and have the potential to function as transport vesicles for these hydrophobic molecules. However, these aggregates lack stability, falling apart at low concentrations or upon interactions with blood proteins. We have begun to engineer stabilized micelles by synthesizing lipid-nucleic acid conjugates with varying lipid chain lengths and unique nucleic acid sequences at the head group. These modifications have the potential to reduce interactions with blood proteins as well as lower the lipid concentration at which micelles form. Successful integration of nucleic acids also allows for a triggered release system of the drug cargo, thus increasing the likelihood of controlled disassembly. In this manner, we will create a library of programmable delivery vehicles for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.