Nanotechnology has received a significant impact in almost every aspect of science. My research proposal explores novel nanomaterials and nanotechnologies in order to develop advanced drug and gene delivery systems with the promise to improve health care. Highly integrating interdisciplinary knowledge and technology, my research is focused on multifunctional nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems. I seek to improve nanoparticle synthesis and formulation and its therapeutic efficacy. Additionally, developing the robust engineering processes accelerate translation of nanoparticle-based drugs into the drug development pipeline. At the same time, I also emphasize a fundamental understanding of the interface between nanomaterials and the biological system, all in order to aid in drug delivery system of nanocarriers. Based on nanotechnology, several bio-applications including (a) synergic cancer therapy, (b) gene delivery, (c) molecular image, (d) neural repair, and (e) cell delivery are involved in my future works. The development of novel nano-material systems and therapeutic approaches via constructing bio-mimic nanostructures composed of functional biomolecules, lipids, copolymers and inorganic materials is the major challenges.
Nano Science and Engineering:
We design and fabricate functional nano- materials and structures. Examples include inorganic/organic nanoparticles for therapeutic applications, multicolor quantum dots (Qdots) for fluorescence imaging, and magnetic nanoparticles for MRI. Most recently, we are interested in developing double emulsions nanocapsules capable of carrying different drug molecules and imaging. Under high-frequency magnetic field, the encapsulated drug or DNA molecules can be triggered release on demand.
Multifunctional Drug Carriers:
The multifunctional carriers are composed of different functional components for different biomedical needs. For example, two or more drugs are necessary for cocktail therapy. The designed core-shell nanocapsules carries hydrophilic anti-cancer drug (Doxo) in the core and hydrophobic drug (PTX) in the shells, both drugs showing little release until the release is triggered by an external magnetic field. Since magnetic induction of IO also gives rise to local heating, both magneto-chemotherapy and magneto-hyperthermia contribute to cell kill and tumor treatment, adding to the already synergetic effect of PTX and DOXO. Enhanced delivery is further achieved by conjugating a tumor-targeting peptide to the nanocapsules.
Targeting and Traceable Therapy:
We are interested in integrating inorganic nanoparticle-organic polymer hybrid structures for targeted and traceable delivery of drug molecules and therapeutic efficacy. The nanoparticles have dual functionalities, serving as both contrast agent and structural scaffold. For example, quantum dots tagged grephene (QD-rGO) nanocomposites were applied to monitor the photothermal therapeutic efficacy in vitro.