Michaela Prado and Cristóbal Riojas have been given the Rómulo Garza Award at undergraduate level for their contribution to science through their research project on the treatment of metastatic cancer using nanotechnology.
The Tec graduate in Chemical Sciences and Nanotechnology Engineering and the student of Biotechnology Engineering are working to fight this type of cancer, which is notable for spreading from its point of origin to other parts of the body.
“We developed a platform using two types of nanoparticles linked by a chemical bond designed to separate within the microenvironment of a tumor.
“This will allow the formation of nanohydrogels, which are responsible for releasing drugs into the tumors,” said the Monterrey campus graduate.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we take advantage of hydrogels, which are already used for local drug delivery, but in metastasis?’ That’s what inspired our project.” - Michaela Prado
Doing their research at MIT
The title of the research undertaken by Michaela and Cristóbal is ‘Dual-Nanoparticle System for Enhanced Drug Accumulation and Prolonged Retention in Metastatic Cancers.’
They collaborated on this research during their stay at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Boston, USA.
“The laboratory where we work specializes in biomaterials, specifically hydrogels.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we take advantage of hydrogels, which are already used for local drug delivery, but in metastasis?’ That’s what inspired our project,” explained Michaela.
Michaela Prado has participated in the research stay since 2020, while Cristóbal Riojas joined the team in 2021.
In order to qualify for the stay, the young people had to respond to a call for researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, MIT, and Boston Children’s Hospital.
The duration of the stays varies from 6 months to 1 year.
“It’s a wonderful recognition and honor (the award). Plus, it’s something that recognizes the work and what we’ve been doing.” - Cristóbal Riojas
Defining research stages
We began the research from a chemical perspective, understanding the characteristics of nanoparticles, explained Cristóbal Riojas, a student at the Guadalajara campus.
“After looking at all the theoretical nanoparticle design, we moved on to in-vitro testing, which is when you begin testing cellular responses to the nanoparticle.
“Once we get these results, we can move on to in-vivo testing, which means the nanoparticles are tested on animals with metastatic cancers in order see how they respond to the treatment”, confirmed the student.
We have to see that our design is really effective and efficient, so that when we start in-vivo testing, we can optimize the process and gradually improve the characteristics of our nanoparticle platform, he explained.
Right now, the project is in the in-vivo testing stage, in which tests are being performed on animals with metastatic cancers. They hope to publish their results in an indexed research journal in the coming months.
Recognizing their innovative vision
The Rómulo Garza Award is presented by Tecnológico de Monterrey and the Xignux company to reward research carried out by teachers and students at high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels.
Both students were given the award at an in-person ceremony held on March 2 at the Monterrey campus.
“We owe part of this award to Dr. Natalie Artzi and Dr. Pere Dosta Pons at MIT, as well as Dr. Marcelo Videa, a professor at the Tec’s School of Science and Engineering,” said Michaela.
“Obviously, it’s a wonderful recognition and honor. Plus, it’s something that recognizes the work and what we’ve been doing,” added Cristóbal.
With information from Karla Rosales