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YPIE Scientist: Naomi Gonzales-Flores

Updated: May 30, 2023

Research: Exploring Transdermal Drug Delivery of Insulin for the Treatment of Diabetes

Awards: Participant in Westlake Science Fair (2021), WESEF 2023 - Creative approach to Research Award, WESEF 2023- 2nd Place Medicine and Health

Mentor: Dalia Laredo

Research Location: Regeneron


Insulin therapy is an efficient treatment option for diabetes due to its ability to control blood glucose levels, preventing the progression of complications associated with diabetes. Insulin therapy is commonly administered through a subcutaneous drug route in the form of insulin injections but studies have shown that many complications like idiosyncratic skin pigmentation and lipoatrophy have been associated with it. Another drug delivery route, transdermal drug delivery (TDD), where the drug is inserted directly into the dermis layer of the skin, has been assessed for its efficiency in administering macromolecules. Advantages to TDD include less risk of infection, as it is noninvasive, inexpensive and provides higher levels of comfort for people dealing with needle-phobia. Excipients were selected to make up a formulation that would optimize viscosity, minimize delivery system retention and facilitate insulin absorption. A Franz-Cell model was used to model the diffusion of insulin through the skin membrane model, Strat-M. The amount of insulin that successfully passed through the skin model was monitored every 30 minutes and the samples were run through SoloVPE (UV-Vis Spectroscopy). UV-Vis Spectroscopy, a method that determines how much light is absorbed by a molecule, was used to determine the amount of insulin that successfully traversed the membrane over a course of 7 hours. Insulin-loaded hollow microneedle patches could potentially serve as a successful non-invasive treatment option for diabetes which could make continuing insulin therapy for patients easier to do properly.

About this Scientist:

Naomi Gonzalez-Flores is a senior at Charles E. Gorton High School who will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall, majoring in biomedical engineering. Her research revolves around the efficiency of transdermal drug delivery for the administration of insulin through micro-needle patches for the treatment of diabetes. Naomi hopes to become someone who can provide assistance for people living in under-resourced communities and work on innovating efficient health care options that can be accessible to them.

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