Multi-functional Nanostructures for Nanomedicine

Personalized NanoMedicine (PNM) has recently emerged as a multi-disciplinary field that leverages nanotechnology to enable disease- and patient-specific medical diagnostics and treatment. However, in spite of its unprecedented potential, PNM is at its very early stage of development and no viable PNM technologies exist today. The use of nanoparticles is often considered as the main driving force of nanomedicine and especially of PNM.  Because of their unique size- and shape-dependent properties, nanoparticles promise superior applications in diverse areas such as cancer relief, drug delivery and targeting, immunoassays, functional MRI and fluorescence imaging, enzyme mobility, catalysis, chemical separation, and many others. For ideal medical treatment, every patient requires his or her own optimal combination of drugs and environment that can be controlled at the sub-cellular level. Using nanoparticles to precisely control drug dosage and composition as well as to detect even minute disease-caused environment changes can make such personalized treatment a reality. However, the physics that underlies the nanoparticles’ characteristics in the perspective of their intrinsic interaction with the human body in the aforementioned applications is extremely poorly understood. Revealing and controlling the interaction of nanoparticles with the patient’s body at the nanoscale, whether it is electric field-, magnetic spin- , photon-, or phonon-triggered, is vital for enabling perfect diagnostics and/or recovery/regeneration of all the medical functions. The goal of the proposed Center for Personalized NanoMedicine (CPNM) is to fill this gap via a focused cross-disciplinary study by experts in medical fields, physics and engineering of nanostructures, and signal processing and bio-imaging. The unique research direction of CPNM is towards creation of groundbreaking nanotechnologies based on the most recently discovered multi-functional nanoparticles with a wide range of physical and chemical properties to meet the infinite spectrum of patient and disease scenarios. Specifically, the Center pursues the following three broad and cross-disciplinary research aims:

 

(1).  Leveraging the latest nanotechnology discoveries, particularly in the area of multi-functional materials such as multi-ferroic nanocomposites and functionalized carbon nanostructures that combine superior electric, magnetic, optical, mechanical, and thermal characteristics, to enable leapfrog advances in medical diagnostics and treatment.

 

(2). Integrating state-of-the-art multi-physical 3-D imaging with the multifunctional characteristics of the nanoparticles to enable an extensive 3-D diagnostic and treatment framework based on in- and ex-vivo information that is patient- and disease-specific.

 

(3). Developing a robust industry-standard nanofabrication framework to provide the ability to synthesize nanoparticles with a wide range of physical and chemical characteristics tailored to specific PNM applications.