A Spoonful of Sugar from the Lab of Professor Rebecca Bader
Katie Beth and I were on the road again this past week! We drove down to a Disney convention center to see the castles and other fantastic things like dreams come true…
Mission of Bader Research Laboratory
Rebecca Bader, Assistant Professor of Biomedical & Chemical Engineering at the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute of Syracuse University and her staff are working on projects related to improving treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis at the Bader Laboratory in conjunction with the Burton Blatt Institute. The mission statement of Professor Bader’s lab is “to conduct research to improve the lives of those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
“To study RA is not a popular choice among academics, so I’m happy to finally be getting support,” Professor Bader explains. She is personally inspired by her aunt Sue who has lived with RA for over 40 years. Bader is aware that RA is usually misunderstood and uses material from RA Warrior to help explain RA. She expressed thanks “that people are starting to pay attention to the fact that RA is a very real disease worth studying. That’s a great place to start.”
Two of Bader Lab’s staff gave us a summary of their projects
Bader is exploring new methods of drug delivery for Rheumatoid Arthritis treatments like methotrexate. Her lab is using natural biodegradable polysaccharides to make nanoparticle drug carriers. They can target tissue affected by RA because the pore size is much larger (10 to 1,000 nanometers) than healthy tissue which may only be five nanometers wide.
At the Annual Exposition of the Society of Biomaterials, Nan Zhang presented a poster explaining how polysaccharide-based nanoparticles would deliver methotrexate into joint tissue; lessening side effects of treatment. Dr. Bader said, “We chose to start with sugars because they are naturally compatible with the body and easy to breakdown, so you won’t have an extra induced inflammatory or immunogenic response.”
I can’t help saying it: A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
The Bader Lab has several other current projects. We spoke with PhD candidate Christopher Close, who is working with miniature ultrasound units which produce minimal heat. “We are looking at this method that is used in OA. We hope we can disturb the process of the macrophages and the fibroblasts while stimulating production of new cartilage at the same time.”
An e-patient’s wish is granted
It’s surprising how often people I meet have their own e-patient story to tell. Time after time, the principles of empowering patients come alive as people tell me their stories.
Professor Bader goes by “Becky.” She’s a triathlete. And she blogs about running while raising money for charity. Do any of you remember what it’s like to run? I do…
Becky remembers a time when she dragged her left leg behind her. She went to doctors and they told her it was just a bruise. That might make sense if it hadn’t lasted five years? “Five awful, long, painful years,” she remembers.
Becky researched online and found a lead. Her hip injury matched the description of acetabular labral tear. A desperate young graduate student, Becky wrote to expert surgeon Dr. Robert Buly at the Hospital for Special Surgery. To her surprise, he wrote back. Soon, Dr. Buly operated on Becky, performing “debridement with thermal capsulorrhaphy.”
Becky ran again 12 weeks after surgery: “It was the best 5 minutes I’d had in 5 years. I remember every second of that run.” Four weeks later, she came in second place in her first race. Talk about sweet! “It was amazing, I cried.”
Today, Becky ran in her first Boston Marathon.
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