Additionally, he is creating “laboratory leather,” a form of leather that is completely indistinguishable from a typical animal hide, but only takes a small skin sample from the animal.
His talk, “The Synthesis of Functional Amyloid Peptides for Targeted Drug Delivery and Release,” delved into the topic of alternative methods of drug delivery in order to avoid antibiotic resistance.
Altemose explained that his goal is to use artificial bioparticles to attach and release drugs at specific locations and times in the body. These drugs would help heal people who have difficult-to-treat infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Currently, he is focused on using a peptide along with a heat-based or electrostatic release in order to better control the drug release.
He explained that his focus on material science concepts and engineering principals that he now uses every day were important elements that he started learning during his years at Ursinus, and he credits Ursinus with giving him “a huge head start” for his graduate experience at Brown.
“Working with Casey [Schwarz, an assistant professor of physics] really helped me grow personally and in the lab,” Altemose said. “I learned so much from her and have been using those skills constantly in graduate school.”
His “laboratory leather” idea developed from a long-term entrepreneurial project, one that focused on developing tissues for human and animal implantation. Current methods of producing leather and fur goods are controversial and also contribute to environmental pollution. But according to Altemose, this project could one day limit the environmental impact and animal sacrifice in the fashion industry.
“This will eventually be accomplished through a large-scale cell culturing technique utilizing various cell-differentiating agents,” Altemose explained. The sample taken from any given animal could then be used indefinitely to produce cells for culturing.
Altemose is currently in phase one of the multi-phase project and is spending his time on bacterial studies. Eventually, he aims to become a material supplier as well as a clothing designer and manufacturer using his own ethically produced products. —By Mary Lobo ’15