Andrew Zydney and Howard Salis

RNA Purification Using Membrane Systems

There is growing interest in the use of RNA for therapeutic applications, including antisense therapies, RNA interference, and steric-blocking oligonucleotides, for the treatment of macular degeneration, cancer, HIV, and other retroviral infections (e.g., Ebola). The commercial market for RNA therapeutics is expected to grow to $1.2 billion by 2020. However, existing approaches for RNA purification are largely inadequate for the commercial-scale purification of large quantities of well-defined RNA. The objective of this work will be to examine the potential of using membrane filtration for RNA purification, including the removal of host cell proteins, DNA, and small molecules. Experimental studies will be performed with a range of well-defined RNA molecules having different surface charge, size, and secondary structures, with specific experiments designed to examine the effects of membrane properties and filtration conditions on the transmission of RNA through small pore size membranes.

This work will provide fundamental insights into the factors controlling the transport of RNA molecules through membrane pores while also providing a framework for the development of new membrane systems for RNA purification. One student will work primarily in the Salis lab on the production of specific RNA molecules with well-defined biophysical properties, while the other student will work primarily in the Zydney lab on membrane filtration. Close collaboration will provide new understanding of the relationship between RNA properties and filtration behavior.

artist's rendering of RNA ultrafiltration process

RNA ultrafiltration

Faculty Research Links

Contact Information

Manish Kumar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator

Esther Gomez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator



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