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Isom Kelly wins Best Collaborative Paper

Posted by on Monday, November 22, 2021 in News.

VINSE is excited to announce Isom Kelly is the recipient of the inaugural VINSE Best Collaborative Paper award. Isom’s paper has contributions from two VINSE faculty from different departments and one VINSE technical staff member, and involves research carried out in each of VINSE’s three core facilities: porous silicon nanoparticle fabrication in the cleanroom, characterization in the analytical lab, and imaging with the TEM. The VINSE Best Collaborative Paper award comes with a cash prize and a celebratory dinner for all contributing authors.

“Tuning Endosomolytic Polymer Composition in Porous Silicon Composite Nanoparticles for the Delivery of Anti-miRNA Peptide Nucleic Acids” authored by Isom B. Kelly III, R. Brock Fletcher, James R. McBride, Sharon M. Weiss, and Craig L. Duvall. This article was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces on July 31, 2020.


This manuscript focuses on drug delivery of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) biomacromolecules as microRNA inhibitory nanomedicines. Isom completed an investigation and optimization of polymer-coated porous silicon nanoparticle (PSNP) composites as a function of polymer structure with a focus on readouts for endosome escape and intracellular bioavailability. He synthesized a family of six diblock copolymers comprising 5 kDa PEG blocked with a random copolymer block containing varying ratios of cationic and hydrophobic monomers. The serum stability, pH-dependent membrane disruptive potential, live cell endosomal disruption imaged by Galectin 8 tracking, and intracellular microRNA inhibitory activity were all measured. Isom discovered that polymer coating onto porous silicon shifts the pH “on switch” for endosomolytic polymers, suppressing membrane disruption in the early endosome pH range relative to free polymer. He further characterized and proved that, relative to free polymer, lower hydrophobic monomer content and higher cationic monomer content is more idealized for activation in an early endosome pH range and mediation of intracellular bioavailability of PNA cargo delivered via polymer coated porous silicon nanoparticles.

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