Chemical and Biological Engineering

Faculty Advisor: Eric Shusta


Dr. Moriah Katt’s research is focused on variable lymphocyte receptors for blood-brain barrier targeting and delivery. Central nervous system (CNS) diseases have an annual cost in excess of $250 annually, despite their high prevalence relatively few disease altering therapies exist. This is due in part to the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which prevents the passage of nearly all therapeutic molecules into the brain. Receptor mediated transcytosis is one proposed method of gaining entry to the brain, this is done by using antibodies against receptors on the surface of brain endothelial cells and triggering transcytosis carrying both the antibody and conjugated therapy into the cell. Many promising candidates on the bench are notable to penetrate the brain at therapeutically relevant concentrations, without substantial off target effects halting their progression through clinical trials. It is clear that novel means of approaching delivery across the BBB are needed. Using variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs) as a means of targeting and facilitating transport into the brain, Dr. Katt and colleagues hope to be able to overcome many of the issues faced by standard antibody-based therapeutics. .