With over 28,000 students, it is the largest university in San Antonio and the eighth-largest (2014) in the state of Texas. Its three campuses span over 747 acres of land, with its main campus being the largest in the University of Texas System. UTSA offers a wide array of academic studies, with 133 undergraduate, 51 graduate and 24 doctoral programs. In 2012 and 2013, it was selected by Times Higher Education as one of the best universities in the world under 50 years old.
UTSA is a member of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium of the nation’s major doctorate-level universities dedicated to collaboration and scientific advancement. It is an institutional member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, recognizing its influence and role as a Hispanic-serving institution. UTSA is also a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, an organization of public institutions that seek to both offer educational excellence and opportunities to historically under-served populations.
Established in 1969, UTSA has evolved to become the fourth largest institution within the UT System. Through an aggressive expansion of its academic funding, the university devoted over $56 million to research in 2011. Its football team has competed in Conference USA since 2013, previously playing a stint in the WAC and as an FCS independent.
Alongside seven other emerging research institutions, The University of Texas at San Antonio is currently in competition to become Texas’ third flagship university.
A new study by Lyle Hood, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), describes a new device that could revolutionize the delivery of medicine to treat cancer as well as a host of other diseases and ailments.
Hood developed the device in partnership with Alessandro Grattoni, chair of the Department of Nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute.
“The problem with most drug-delivery systems is that you have a specific minimum dosage of medicine that you need to take for it to be effective,” Hood said. “There’s also a limit to how much of the drug can be present in your system so that it doesn’t make you sick.”
As a result of these limitations, a person who needs frequent doses of a specific medicine is required to take a pill every day or visit a doctor for injections. Hood’s creation negates the need for either of these approaches, because it’s a tiny implantable drug delivery system.
“It’s an implantable capsule, filled with medicinal fluid that uses about 5000 nanochannels to regulate the rate of release of the medicine,” Hood said. “This way, we have the proper amount of drugs in a person’s system to be effective, but not so much that they’ll harm that person.”
The capsule can deliver medicinal doses for several days or a few weeks. According to Hood, it can be used for any kind of ailment that needs a localized delivery over several days or a few weeks. This makes it especially tailored for treating cancer, while a larger version of the device, which was originally created by Grattoni, can treat diseases like HIV for up to a year.
“In HIV treatment, you can bombard the virus with drugs to the point that that person is no longer infectious and shows no symptoms,” Hood said. “The danger is that if that person stops taking their drugs, the amount of medicine in his or her system drops below the effective dose and the virus is able to become resistant to the treatments.”
The capsule, however, could provide a constant delivery of the HIV-battling drugs to prevent such an outcome. Hood noted it can also be used to deliver cortisone to damaged joints to avoid painful, frequent injections, and possibly even to pursue immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients.
“The idea behind immunotherapy is to deliver a cocktail of immune drugs to call attention to the cancer in a person’s body, so the immune system will be inspired to get rid of the cancer itself,” he said.
The current prototype of the device is permanent and injected under the skin, but Hood is working with Teja Guda, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, to collaborate on 3-D printing technology to make a new, fully biodegradable iteration of the device that could potentially be swallowed.
Matthew Gdovin, an associate professor in the UTSA Department of Biology, has developed a newly patented method to kill cancer cells. His discovery, described in research published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, may tremendously help people with inoperable or hard-to-reach tumors, as well as young children stricken with cancer.
Gdovin’s top-tier research involves injecting a chemical compound, nitrobenzaldehyde, into the tumor and allowing it to diffuse into the tissue. He then aims a beam of light at the tissue, causing the cells to become very acidic inside and, essentially, commit suicide. Within two hours, Gdovin estimates up to 95 percent of the targeted cancer cells are dead.
“Even though there are many different types of cancers, the one thing they have in common is their susceptibility to this induced cell suicide,” he said.
Gdovin tested his method against triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of cancer and one of the hardest to treat. The prognosis for triple negative breast cancer is usually very poor. After one treatment in the laboratory, he was able to stop the tumor from growing and double chances of survival in mice.
Rice University catalyst holds promise for clean, inexpensive hydrogen production
Graphene doped with nitrogen and augmented with cobalt atoms has proven to be an effective, durable catalyst for the production of hydrogen from water, according to scientists at Rice University.
The Rice lab of chemist James Tour and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Houston have reported the development of a robust, solid-state catalyst that shows promise to replace expensive platinum for hydrogen generation.
A new palm-sized microarray that holds 1,200 individual cultures of fungi or bacteria could enable faster, more efficient drug discovery, according to a study published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
Scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston have developed a microarray platform for culturing fungal biofilms, and validated one potential application of the technology to identify new drugs effective against Candida albicans biofilms. The nano-scale platform technology could one day be used for rapid drug discovery for treatment of any number of fungal or bacterial infections, according to the authors, or even as a rapid clinical test to identify antibiotic drugs that will be effective against a particular infection.
“Even though we have used the antifungal concept for development, it is a universal tool,” says co-author Jose Lopez-Ribot of the University of Texas at San Antonio. “It opens a lot of possibilities as a new platform for microbial culture. Any time you need large numbers of cultures, this has a big advantage over other methods.”
“The possibility exists to use this same technology for pretty much any other organism,” he says.
A new invention may make things easier for patients with serious bone injuries.
From wounded warriors to cancer patients to accident victims, there are an estimated 500,000 bone graft procedures every year in the U.S.
The bone graft breakthrough takes its cue from a most unusual source: an ingredient found in carpet padding.
Instead of having to use a patient’s own bones or a cadaver source, researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio are developing something similar to help build bones, using a medical grade of polyurethane foam, the porous, spongy stuff you can find in everything from toys to carpet padding.
Dr. Joo Ong, a professor of biomedical engineering, co-invented the bone scaffold. He says it can be used instead of bone grafts for injuries as small as five millimeters.
Calcium phosphate, the mineral found naturally in bone, coats the polyurethane foam. Then it’s put in a furnace. Less than 24 hours later, the foam burns away. The calcium phosphate takes its shape, hardening into a scaffold.