Kimberly Bennett

PhD Student
Co-advised by Dr. Joelle Straehla
Email: kbenn [at] mit . edu

Accelerating layer-by-layer nanocarrier development using a microvascular model of pediatric diffuse midline glioma

Pediatric diffuse midline glioma (DMG) are uniformly fatal brain tumors in children with limited treatment options available. The blood-brain-tumor barrier (BBTB) remains a key challenge in the development and delivery of therapeutics for DMG, and there is a need to develop new delivery strategies to cross the BBTB and enable sufficient drug exposure at the tumor site. Layer-by-layer (LbL) nanoparticles offer great potential for DMG, as they can be optimized to have increased BBTB penetration and deliver various promising drug cargos. However, there are no preclinical models of DMG that can probe BBTB properties in vitro that allow for the assessment of its biological, morphological, and functional characteristics simultaneously. This highlights a need for a platform to evaluate nanocarrier efficacy that is representative of human physiology and can thus accelerate a nanocarrier towards clinical trials. My research addresses these hand-in-hand research gaps by both optimizing a 3-dimensional microvascular model of human BBTB vasculature, and utilizing it to develop nanocarriers to target pediatric DMG.