Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) have been widely studied over the past decade offering researchers the ability to explore nanoparticle structures and potential in disease states as therapeutic agents due to the surface loading capabilities and optical applications. The ability to manipulate and systematically control the surface ligands of nanocrystals provides an opportunity to deliver a variety of moieties. However, the ability to understand the rates and conditions of release allow further control of assembly and provides insight such as endosomal escape being the primary rate-limiting step in nanoparticle delivery. Utilizing nano-surface energy transfer techniques, we are able to compare uptake, nanoparticle disassembly, and gene expression with both covalent and electrostatic assemblies.
The full potential of nanoparticles as targeted multimodal delivery agents, capible of specifically treating individual disease states in human cells, necessitates the understanding and utiliztaion of biologically compatible targeting agents such as protien transduction domains and other cell penetrating peptides (CPPs). Combining the cellular uptake efficieny of combinatorial CPPs with the ability to load multiple therapeutic cargos (drugs, genes, siRNA, antibodies) onto a single particle allows for the advancement of research in disease treatment such as brain, lung, breast and skin cancers as well as genetic disorders.
Developing nanotechnology to transform a primary cell into a stable bio-reactor of a desirable protein for enhanced therapeutic effects to track and improve outcomes in brain injuries (TBI, stroke). This collaborative project with the College of Medicine and Bio-medical Engineering has developed nanoparticle-driven stem cell delivery systems that are versatile enough to permit us to reliably regulate the expression of a host of genes in a controlled and traceable fashion. The effort may be applied to a wide variety of pre-clinical disease models with the ultimately goal of clinical testing and application. The images below show transfected cells (in vitro-left) and in brain slices with spectral conformation (in vivo-right). The image at the bottom is from a Stroke model that show spectral conformation of FeOx nanoparticles appended with flourescent proteins in the brain after a stroke.