CAREER: Understanding the biological functions of the gasotransmitter hydrogen sulfide using a polymer engineering approach

Project: Research project

Project Details


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), has recently emerged as an essential molecule in the body. Evidence suggest that H2S plays important roles in cancer, brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease. An in-depth understanding of the function of H2S in biology could lead to development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat these diseases. This CAREER project uses polymeric nanoreactors to develop tools to advance the fundamental understanding of H2S in the human body. The educational activities are focused on engaging students at all levels, with a special emphasis on women and underrepresented minority students, to develop career paths in biomaterials science, and contribute to the educational mission of Kansas State University (KSU) by participating in the Girls Researching Our World (GROW) program and developing a new Biomaterials course at KSU.

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gaseous signal-transmitter molecule (gasotransmitter), which plays a pivotal role in regulating the cardiovascular, nervous system, immune system, and cancer. While significant efforts have been made to advance the basic understanding of H2S biology, the mechanisms underlying its biological activities remains largely unknown. Recent studies have shown that H2S can be oxidized either enzymatically or non-enzymatically in the body, which leads to the formation of diverse reactive sulfur species (RSS). These RSS are suggested to be the actual mediators in many H2S-related signaling pathways. Therefore, there is a critical need to explore the biological roles of RSS. This NSF CAREER project focuses on the development of polymeric nanomaterial-based platforms to deliver H2S-derived RSS to explore the biological significance of H2S signaling. The approach will be to engineer polymeric nanomaterials that release H2S and subsequently convert it to RSS by mimicking H2S metabolism in biological systems. The developed polymeric platforms will be used to determine the physiological and pathological roles of RSS in angiogenesis and tumor growth. The proposed technology is expected to provide RSS delivery tools to advance the fundamental understanding of the biological activities of RSS. Furthermore, it is expected that the obtained knowledge could provide the basis for future work to develop new therapeutic and diagnostic applications for diseases such as cancer.

This CAREER award is jointly funded by the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering Program of the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems Division, and by the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date4/1/2011/30/20


  • National Science Foundation: $162,914.00


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