Team:Jefferson VA SciCOS



The amount of oxygenation at ulcer sites is a key determinant of the outcome of healing because oxygen is crucial to the healing process and for resistance to infection. The non-healing skin ulcers that are formed from diabetic gangrene tend to be hypoxic; hypoxia is a condition not favorable to tissue repair. According to numerous studies, topical treatments of growth factors and peripheral blood mononuclear cells can help treat ulcers non-invasively in gangrene patients. It is posited that the growth factors promote angiogenesis, the physiological process by which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels. It is also a vital process in growth and development as well as in repair of damaged tissue. Furthermore, angiogenesis can render greater oxygen delivery to wounded areas, further enhancing growth and recovery to the areas suffering from chronic ischemia. In order to promote angiogenesis in gangrenous sites, and in turn treat the ulcers, growth factors such as fibroblast growth factor (FGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VGF), and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) can be produced in elevated quantities. To address the issue of inadequate oxygen levels during the healing process, we coupled the VHb gene promoter, which encodes for the Vitreoscilla hemoglobin molecule, to a downstream gene encoding KGF. The VHb promoter is most activated at an oxygen threshold of 2%, allowing for maximum transcription of the KGF gene and production of the growth factor in response to conditions of hypoxia. We also wanted to tested the production of another essential growth factor, FGF, under the influence of various constitutive promoters. This oxygen-sensing device is part of an array of growing applications targeted towards the promotion of angiogenesis as a means of healing in patients with severe, diabetic gangrene.



Established in 1985, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is the result of a partnership of businesses and schools created to improve education in science, mathematics, and technology. Representatives from business and industry and staff of the Fairfax County Public Schools worked together in curriculum and facilities development for the school. In recent years, local business leaders and Jefferson parents have formed the Jefferson Partnership Fund to help raise money to maintain and equip labs and classrooms in the school. As the Governor's School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia, the school is also supported by the Virginia Department of Education. In addition to providing a specialized education for selected students in Fairfax County, Jefferson also serves other school districts including Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William counties as well as the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

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Apotex Incorporated

We would like to thank Apotex Inc. for their generous sponsorship of our project. Without their donations and support, much of the work that we did would not be possible.



We would also like to thank Dr. Mary Susan Burnett, a DNA teacher, researcher, and lab director who is currently employed at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She guided us through the more difficult procedures in our experiment, and taught us all of the proper techniques and safety guidelines that we employed throughout our work.


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