Welcome to Biomaterials & Drug Controlled Release Laboratory
Biocompatible and biodegradable polymeric materials have attracted considerable attention in the biomedical applications. With being elaborately designed and modified with pertinent chemical moieties, these functionalized polymers exhibit unique features capable of adjusting their physicochemical properties in response to environmental stimuli such as pH, temperature, light and/or electromagnetic field. The stimuli-responsive polymeric materials provide the opportunities to develop smart drug delivery nanoplatforms for delivery of diagnostics and/or therapeutics in a controllable manner. The biodistribution and blood circulation half-life of hydrophobic chemotherapy agents, such as paclitaxel, doxorubicin and SN38, can be largely improved by the confinement in nanoparticles (NPs).
Currently, the targeting of NP-based chemotherapeutics to tumors is usually achieved by the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect and surface implementation of pertinent ligands capable of specifically binding with cancer cells. For instance, the targeting is often attained by surface modification of drug nanocarriers with the targeting ligand-conjugated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), concomitantly in an attempt to efficiently increase drug residence in blood circulation and reduce recognition and phagocytosis by mononuclear phagocyte system. Upon the arrival at the tumor sites via the EPR effect, the smart nanocarriers tend to dissociate and release therapeutic payloads by changing their conformation and molecular packing in response to stimuli occurring within tumor microenvironment. The pronounced cytotoxicity against cancer cells in tumors can thus be activated by the actions of released chemotherapeutics.
Our research laboratory is well-equipped for design, synthesis and development of smart drug carriers and targeted delivery and controlled release of therapeutics in vitro and in vivo. We have been utilizing stimuli-responsive polymers for fabrication of micro- and nano-scale assemblies with high sensitivity to external stimuli such as acidic pH, excess glutathione or reactive oxygen species in tumor microenvironment or external non-invasive energy treatment; for instance, by near-infrared light irradiation, focused ultrasound or alternating magnetic field exposure. Our current research interests include the exploitation of smart nanomedicines for cancer theranostic applications and adoption of tumortropic immune/stem cells as cellular Trojan horses to deliver therapeutics and diagnostics to deep tumor tissues which are difficult to be treated with conventional nanomedicine delivery approaches. We have demonstrated the promising potential of cell-based delivery in chemotherapy of tumor hypoxia or brain tumors protected by the blood brain barrier.