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Betancourt Research Group

The Betancourt Research Laboratory was established in the Fall 2011. The research in Dr. Betancourt's laboratory focuses on the development of novel stimuli-responsive polymeric materials and nanoparticles for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Specifically, Dr. Betancourt’s group is interested in the use of hybrid materials that incorporate both synthetic and biological molecules to provide improved interaction with physiological systems and new functions.

In addition, Dr. Betancourt’s group is also interested in the development of new technologies to enable high throughput preparation of nanoparticles for drug and imaging agent encapsulation. Commercialization of these technologies will be pursued by the laboratory’s spinoff company San Marcos Biomaterials. While laboratory processes for reproducible synthesis of polymeric NPs have matured, the development of methods for synthesis of such monodispersed NPs in suitable commercial scale has not been achieved. In partnership with CHEMTOR, LLC., and Tennessee Technological University, we have recently obtained a small business technology transfer (STTR) grant from the National Institutes of Health to help in the development of a new technology for continuous manufacture of polymeric particles (patent pending).

Laboratory facilities are housed on the third floor of the Centennial Hall building at Texas State University. These facilities include three laboratories -wet chemistry, material processing and characterization, and tissue culture— covering an approximate area of 700 sq. ft. The wet chemistry laboratory contains two chemical hoods and ample storage and bench space. The cell culture laboratory is certified as a Biosafety Level II area. Dr. Betancourt's laboratory is equipped with the equipment for necessary for the preparation, purification, recovery, characterization and in vitro evaluation of biomaterials including nanoparticles for drug delivery, biosensing, bioimaging, bioseparations, and nanocomposites. For further information about possibilities for collaboration or access to instrumentation, please contact Dr. Tania Betancourt.

 

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Major laboratory equipment includes

 Processing

  • Beckman Coulter J-26XPi high performance centrifuge with maximum acceleration of 82,000 x g. This centrifuge enables recovery of nanoparticles suspensions.
  • Buchi®R-210 rotary evaporator with diagonal condenser, Woulff bottle, vacuum controller V-850, bath B-491 and vacuum pump V-700.
  • Collegiate Buchi® R-210 Rotavapor® with diagonal condenser with a Welch GEM 1.0 direct-drive vacuum pump.
  • Fischer Technical Company High Vacuum Pump LAV-3.
  • IKA RO5 multi-position stirrer with 5 separate stirring positions. Speed range from 0-1100 rpm
  • Analog VWR multi-position stirrer with 9 separate stirring positions.
  • Welch 8917 direct-drive freeze dryer vacuum pump (6.1 cfm)
  • Labconco FreeZone 4.5L, 10-port benchtop freeze dryer for drying of polymers, nanoparticles, labile drugs and other molecules.
  • VWR Critical Storage (-25 °C) Laboratory Freezer (5.4 cu. ft)
  • Eppendorf Thermomixer
  • Eppendorf tabletop centrifuge 5424
  • Millipore Direct-Q3 UV Water Purification System
  • Brinkmann WKL 230 Lauda recirculating heater/cooler
  • ISCO Model 100DM Syringe pump with Series D pump controller
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 Analytical

  • Malvern Zetasizer Nano-ZS, for measurement of size, molecular weight, and zeta potential of dispersed particles and molecules in solution. Temperature control in the range of 0 - 90 °C.
  • Biotek Synergy H4 Hybrid reader, multimode plate reader with capability to measure absorbance, fluorescence intensity, time-resolved fluorescence, fluorescence polarization, and luminescence through monochromator or filter-based detection. Capability for programming assay sequences. Includes autotitrator for reagent addition or pH adjustment. Incubation capability up to a temperature of 65 °C. Includes Take-3 sample holder for DNA quantification or other biotechnology assays (2 μL samples), and for standard and custom cuvettes. Wavelength ranges: 230-999 nm for absorption, and 300-900 nm for fluorescence.
  • Polymer Laboratories (Varian Inc.) PL-GPC 50 Plus integrated gel permeation chromatography system
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 Cell Culture Facility

Categorized as a Biosafety Level II laboratory to enable studies with mammalian (including human) cell lines and other biological specimens.

  • Nuaire Labgard ES Hood. Class 2 type A2 Biosafety cabinet.
  • AMG EVOS FL digital LED-based brightfield and fluorescence microscope equipped with 2X, 20X and 40X magnification, digital camera, large screen for sample viewing, multiple stage configurations for samples, and DAPI, GFP, RFP, and Cy 7.0 light cubes.
  • Nuaire Glacier (-86 °C) freezer (17.1 cu. ft.)
  • 808-nm laser diode (RLCO-808-1000G, 9 mm, Roithner Lasertechnik GmbH, Austria) rated at 1 W of power driven with a Benchtop LD Current Controller (LDC205C, ThorLabs) and a benchtop temperature controller (TED200C, Thorlabs). . Laser diode is connected to an optical fiber and focused onto samples using a biconvex lens.
  • Incubator for laser-mediated photothermal treatment with STC-1000 probe temperature controller
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