Event Nur Mustafaoğlu

Answering the question “How to cross the BBB” using a human BBB Chip model

The brain is the most mysterious organ in the human body. Since it serves as the management office, it is well protected via the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is a unique, complex, and dynamic interface of the CNS that separates the brain from the circulatory system. The BBB regulates substance influx and efflux to maintain a homeostatic environment for proper brain function and protects the brain from toxins and pathogens. Although the tight barrier formation of the BBB is beneficial for protecting the brain, it also conversely restricts the drug delivery into the CNS, impeding the treatment of brain-related diseases. Despite the importance of the BBB, our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the formation and maintenance of the BBB remains limited. Furthermore, many CNS related diseases affect many people’s life, contributing to significant mortality and morbidity in the modern world, including multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s diseases (AD), and Parkinson’s diseases (PD) are related with the impaired BBB function. Many of these diseases are known to be untreatable and current knowledge about them is admittedly limited, one of the main reasons for that the efficacy of drugs designed to treat neurological disorders is often limited by their inability to cross the BBB. Unfortunately, neither animal models of the BBB nor in vitro cultures of primary or immortalized human BMVECs alone effectively mimic the barrier, and transporter functions of the BBB observed in humans. Thus, there is a great need for a human BBB model that could be used to develop new and more effective CNS-targeting therapeutics and delivery technologies as well as advance fundamental and translational research.
This talk will explicitly focus on the recent advances we have made in the engineering of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Chips. I will be describing details of the BBB Chip model, and our efforts to use these systems for selecting shuttle molecules that can cross the BBB and developing therapeutics to cure CNS diseases utilizing the in vitro human BBB Chips.

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About The Speaker

Nur Mustafaoglu - photo

Nur Mustafaoglu is a postdoctoral researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. She has two bachelor degrees in molecular biology and genetics and physics engineering from Istanbul Technical University. She also completed a master’s degree in nanoscience and nanoengineering from the same university. She was awarded with Fulbright Fellowship to pursue her doctoral degree in the US. She received her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her postgraduate studies focused on two major research areas: i) developing enhanced detection systems, and ii) designing easy, inexpensive, and efficient affinity chromatography methods for antibody purification. Her research for biosensing applications was awarded by Berry Family Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics. She is currently working on developing technologies on physiologically relevant in vitro human blood-brain barrier chip models and their applications. Her Ph.D. and postdoctoral studies yield publications on prestigious journals such as Nature Communications, ACS Nano, Nanoscale, Langmuir ant others.