RESEARCH

TEDxFIU talk: Nanotechnology to Treat Cancer

Research Vision: Technobiology Paradigm Shift in Personalized 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 enabling 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 magnetic resonance imaging (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 molecular level disease-caused environmental 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- , thermally-, photon-, or phonon-triggered, is vital for enabling perfect diagnostics and/or recovery/regeneration of all the medical functions. The goal of the 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 multiferroic nanoparticles, e.g., magnetoelectric nanoparticles (MENPs),  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 multiferroic 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 (pinpoint treatment).

(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.

Our Approach

To enable patient- and disease-specific diagnostic and treatment at the intracellular level in real time, it is imperative to engineer a perfect way to navigate and dispense a cargo of drugs, contrast-enhancing agents, or other biomolecules and nanodevices into damaged cells or image sites with relatively high efficacy and adequate spatial and temporal resolutions to eliminate any side effects. The crossdisciplinary field of nanomedicine has emerged to leverage nanotechnology for achieving the required game-changing diagnostic and treatment milestones. Significant progress has been made using biotechnology; especially with the development of bioinformatics, there are endless computational resources and molecular databases to identify immunotherapeutic biomolecules that could target almost any disease-specific biomarker. Nevertheless, this approach has fundamental limitations; the challenges of multi-drug resistance and many side effects remain to be solved.

Conversely, the technobiology approach that leverages nanoengineering to control underlying molecular mechanisms at the most fundamental physical level, e.g., using intrinsic electric, magnetic, electromagnetic, thermal, and other fields to change biosystem’s energy states at the sub-molecular level, is still in its early development stage. Being complementary to biotechnology, technobiology can make its own indispensable contribution to making personalized medicine a reality.  It could provide an external control which is less dependent on the physiological microenvironment compared to biotechnology. The Center’s development of MENPs’ based applications addresses many open questions in regard to realization of externally (wirelessly) controlled intrinsic nanoscale physiological processes that underlie personalized therapy. Using MENPs as a vital enabling tool of technobiology, the Center conducts focused studies that could potentially lead to future pinpoint treatment of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, HIV/AIDS, and others.

Research Projects

  1. Targeted Delivery and On-demand Release of anti-HIV Drugs
  2. Targeted Delivery and On-demand Release of anti-Cancer Drugs
  3. Remote Brain Control
  4. Neurodegenerative Diseases
  5. Multiferroic Nanoparticles: Underlying Physics and Engineering
  6. 3-D Magnetite Nanostructures
  7. 3-D Imaging of Nanoformulations
  8. Multifunctional Nanoformulations for Field-controlled 3-D Diagnostics and Treatment
  9. Nicotine Nanoparticles
  10. Carbon based nanostructures and nanodevices for regenerative medicine
  11. Neurological Nanodevices
  12. Imprint Nanofabrication of Nanoparticles
  13. Ion Beam Proximity Lithography (IBPL) Nanofabrication of Nanoparticles
  14. Angstrom-resolution Field-controlled Scaning Probe Microscopy Imaging of Nanoformulations

* Research in the Center is supported through grants from National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, research awards from industry, awards from the State of Florida, and private donations.