Sugar-based glasses have been used for decades to encapsulate and stabilize therapeutic proteins, vaccines, and other biological structures. Although this approach has been used widely in biopharmaceutics and other fields for decades, the fundamental mechanisms by which these glasses stabilize biological structures is not understood. This is perhaps not surprising since glasses in general are not well understood.
We have recently demonstrated an apparently universal correlation between ps dynamic processes in sugar-glass and degradation rates of proteins encapsulated in them. We have further proposed a mechanistic link between these ps dynamics and transport in glassy materials that would connect ps dynamics with protein stability.
These first steps in establishing a fundamental understanding of the protein preservation mechanisms are encouraging, but only schematic at this point. In this research opportunity we use nonlinear optics, neutron scattering, and molecular dynamics simulation to understand the fundamental relationship between local, ps timescale relaxation processes and transport, with an eye towards developing a quantitative relationship between these dynamic processes and degradation rates of proteins and vaccines encapsulated in glassy materials.
Cicerone MT, Douglas JF: Soft Matter 8: 2983, 2012
Cicerone MT, Zhong Q, Tyagi M: Physical Review Letters 113: 117801, 2014
Glass; protein Stability; Biopharmaceutical; Transport; Nonlinear; Optics; Dynamics;