Thomas L. Bennett



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Porphyrins are a specific class of aromatic, heterocyclic compounds that are either naturally occurring or artificially synthesized. Porphyrins have demonstrated robust antibacterial properties, which arise from the generation of singlet oxygen. However, most porphyrins are photodynamic, meaning they require activation by light at an optimal wavelength. A novel porphyrin, developed by Dr. Shawn Swavey (UD Chemistry Department) has shown exceptional antibacterial efficiency against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, even without photoactivation. As P. aeruginosa infections are often the root cause behind lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, identifying a way to safely control bacterial presence is a major concern. The ability of this novel porphyrin to effectively work in the dark identified this molecule as belonging to the rare group of porphyrins that hold potential for lung therapeutics. Therefore, this project evaluated the response of human lung co-culture model following exposure to the synthesized porphyrin. The lung co- culture was comprised of A549 epithelial and U937 macrophage cells, thereby allowing for the detection of inflammatory responses, in addition to cellular viability and stress induction. The viability of the lung co-culture model was assessed after a 24 hour exposure to the porphyrin at multiple concentrations, with no induction of cellular death identified. Looking beyond toxicity, the stress and inflammatory responses were investigated through evaluation of reaction oxygen species (ROS) levels and secretion of target cytokines, respectively. Taken together, these results will help support the development of novel porphyrins for lung therapeutics through determination of their safety within enhanced mammalian models.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Kristen K. Comfort, Jayne B. Robinson, Shawn M. Swavey

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stander Symposium project


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Evaluation of Mammalian Stress and Inflammatory Response to a Novel Porphyrin