Research

Interdisciplinary strategies through molecular-level design to enhance self-assembly of novel “smart materials” to address the limitations of current clinical solutions.

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Our research efforts combine various interdisciplinary approaches to address the current limitations in clinical biomedical applications. A key aspect of our research is to harness nanomedicine for clinical translational applications.

 

Site-Specific Delivery of Therapeutics.

A platform based on multi-functional, dynamic self-assembled micelles will improve site-specific delivery of therapeutic cargos.

The targeted delivery of anti-cancer therapeutics remains a significant challenge in cancer treatment. However, because of the dysregulated metabolism of cancer cells, specific abnormalities in enzyme expression are common and can be used to assist with drug delivery. In this research, we therefore design novel drug delivery platforms, combining multiple application-specific components (e.g. therapeutics, targeting domains, diagnostic markers), that will harness the elevated expression of specific enzymes to selectively target malignant cells.

 

Nano Intracellular Tracking of Self-Assembling Nanoparticles.

Combining fluorescence labeling of a therapeutic and its delivery platform to follow intracellular trafficking in real time.

This research simultaneously enables the study and quantification of payload internalization, trafficking, and enzymatic cleavage along with the fates of each component. We extend this technique to multiple platforms and targets in order to: (i) understand in detail the internalization of therapeutics and delivery platforms; (ii) examine spatial/temporal enzyme activities; (iii) identify the cellular fates of new therapeutics (e.g. novel polymer conjugates); (iv) track cargo delivery and resultant protein-protein interactions in the cell. This nanotechnology tool allows us to manipulate cellular behavior in a controlled, observable manner.

 

Shape-Transforming Designer Materials.

Integrating biocatalytic activity into self-assembly of the engineered building blocks to transform their shape from spheres into fibrils to inhibit the tumor by apoptosis.