Inflammation plays a critical role in the progression of many diseases, including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our laboratory focus on the development of “inflammation-tracking delivery” of therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Therapeutics includes synthetic drug molecules in nanocarriers and engineered stem cells. We also work on the fabrication of smart wound patches which release anti-inflammatory drugs in an inflammation-responsive fashion. The patches will curb excessive inflammation after injuries while maintaining the level necessary for wound healing.
Intelligent Drug Nanocarriers
The number one issue in nanomedicine for cancer therapy is the specific targeting of drug carriers to tumors. Nearly all reported nanocarriers, including nanoparticles with ligands targeting cancer cell receptors, enter tumors via passive delivery with low efficiency. It is known that a tumor is a site of chronic inflammation. We are developing nanoparticles which can track this inflammation from blood circulation systems and actively target tumors. This active delivery approach may have applications in the treatment of other diseases involving inflammation.
Engineering Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine
For many applications in regenerative medicine, it is crucial to engraft ex vivo expanded stem cells or progenitor cells in the host tissue requiring regeneration. We have invented a technology to enhance the homing of stem cells to the inflammatory tissues by conjugating ligands on cell membranes without affecting cell viability, proliferation or differentiation. Our lab applies this chemical approach, as well as existing nanotechnologies, to engineer stem cells for tissue regeneration.
Inflammation-responsive Wound Healing Patches
Although inflammation is necessary for wound healing, severe inflammation after injuries can lead to the failure of other organs. We develop smart wound patches to release anti-inflammatory drugs in an inflammation-responsive fashion. Elastomers with excellent mechanical properties and biocompatibility can be used to fabricate wound patches. The release of anti-inflammatory drugs from the patches in an inflammation-responsive fashion will curb excessive inflammatory response.