Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering (M.S.B.E.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Piyush Koria, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Lee, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Jarozeski, Ph.D.


Combination Therapy, Protease Inhibitor, Point-Specific Therapy, Recombinant Proteins, Wound Healing


Many diseases display a multitude of relevant factors that contribute to the persistence of the disease and difficulty treating it. The multifactorial characteristics of some diseases lead to the requirement of combination of treatments in order to restore health. The latter may necessitate the mixing of treatments, medications, and therapeutics to first halt the disease, then assist the human body in returning itself to a state of normality. For example, chronic wounds exhibit this multifactor characteristic in which there exist many factors that lead to the body’s inability to properly heal in a timely manner. This presents a further threat to the body, such as exposure to infection and long-term pain. In this example, it is important to look at the ultimate cause of a chronic wound, which may be due to presence of other diseases impairing the body’s ability to properly heal. This may include diabetes, initial antibiotic-resistant infection, autoimmune disorders, and poor vasculature. Furthermore, the mentioned causes for chronic wounds may have associations with one another in a single case of a chronic wound. Treating each interrelated cause with drug combinations may run the risk of adverse side effects or further complications due to mixing drugs in a systemic method.

The goal of this study is to develop a point-specific, protein-based therapy that incorporates a single-protein molecule with multifunctional characteristics based on what we know about chronic wounds and infections, as a proof of concept of multifunctional proteins. Multifunctionality of a single therapeutic molecule is desirable because it may eliminate the unknowns of how differing individual chemical or protein therapies may interact when simply mixed. In addition, examples of peptides, such as antimicrobial peptides, are known to have synergy, and creating a single protein platform that consists of two synergistic peptides could be of value in the making of a protein with greater activity by guaranteeing that the synergistic peptides are local to one another. Furthermore, broad spectrum activity can be obtained by combining two differing peptides.

This proof of concept was accomplished by targeting two proteinases that are upregulated in chronic wounds: Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and Neutrophil Elastase. Recombinant DNA techniques were used to create a fusion protein that incorporates an inhibitor of MMP-2, which is a β-Amyloid Precursor Protein-derived Inhibitory Peptide (APP-IP), and PMP-D2, an inhibitor of Neutrophil Elastase. PMP-D2 was joined to the N-terminus of an Elastin-like peptide, while the APP-IP was joined to the C-terminus of the same Elastin-like peptide. Elastin-like peptides (ELPs) are commonly used as a backbone for recombinant protein production as their distinct thermoresponsive characteristics provide adequate protein purification using an inverse transition cycling [3]. In addition, ELPs can serve as point-specific drug delivery platforms with a transition temperature (Tt) near that of normal body temperature causing low diffusivity [3]. Therefore, when ELPs are applied to a site at their Tt, they will aggregate, which provides diffusional limitations of the protein in the application site, and may decrease the reapplication rate needed for a therapeutic, as well as eliminate adverse side effects by retaining the protein to the specific application site.

From this dual fusion, the final resulting protein is PMP-D2٠ELP٠APP-IP. This protein was tested for its inhibitory activity of both MMP-2 and Neutrophil Elastase. It was hypothesized that the fusion protein, PMP-D2٠ELP٠APP-IP, would inhibit MMP-2 just as effectively as APP-IP·ELP unaccompanied by PMP-D2, as well as effectively inhibit Neutrophil Elastase to the same degree as PMP-D2·ELP unaccompanied by APP-IP.

Furthermore, an additional dually fused ELP fusion protein was currently made with two synergistic antimicrobial peptides fused to each end of the ELP. The two antimicrobial peptides used were human-derived LL37 and insect-derived Cecropin A. This novel fusion peptide contains synergistic increase in antibacterial activity in which preliminary data suggests.