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Mario Martinez

Current Status: M3

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Previous Education: BS in Biomedical Engineering, BSBA in Finance, Washington University in St. Louis;  

Advisor(s): Michael E. Davis, PhD;

Hometown: Tegucigalpa, Honduras


Hobbies and activities include watching and playing sports (particularly soccer), being involved with a local church, and spending time with my lovely wife and two kids.


Controlled Delivery of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor to Necrotic Tissue in Peripheral Artery Disease

In the United States, peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects 8.5 million people. PAD is characterized by the presence of necrotic tissue and the release of intracellular DNA into extracellular space. The standard treatment for PAD involves lifestyle modification and pharmacological therapies for patients with intermittent claudication, and surgical interventions for patients with more severe critical limb ischemia. Unfortunately, a large number of PAD patients do not respond to pharmacologic therapies and are not suitable candidates for surgery, making amputation their only remaining option. The use of therapeutic angiogenesis on these patients is currently being explored. One such therapy involves the direct administration of recombinant proteins such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Clinical studies have shown mixed results due to the protein’s rapid degradation, inadequate retention at target tissue, inadequate delivery, and numerous side effects.

My project focuses in the development and evaluation of a novel delivery system in which a modified Hoechst compound is used to deliver a VEGF165 isoform to necrotic tissue by targeting extracellular DNA. The objectives of my project are: 1) to determine if this compound retains its bioactivity in vitro, 2) to determine if delivery of this compound to necrotic tissue in vivo will result in increased retention and targeting; and 3) to determine if delivery of this compound to necrotic tissue in vivo will result in functional improvements. Completion of this work will provide a framework for the development of new therapies that may overcome current clinical hurdles and lead to improved clinical outcomes for PAD patients.

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