Biomaterials for drug delivery
Safe and efficient delivery systems for small molecule pharmaceuticals, small interference RNA (siRNA) and DNA are urgently needed. Several major limitations, including limited bioavailability and blood circulation time, inefficient targeting, and potential long-term toxicity associated with current drug delivery systems, must be addressed or improved for the full therapeutic potential of nanomedicine to be realized. To overcome these barriers in the field of drug delivery, and translate the technologies into clinical applications promptly, we are aiming to solve these challenges as a whole by designing integrated natural materials which carry all of required functions (efficient drug encapsulation, long blood circulation, and effective targeting) to improve the therapeutic results
Microbial adhesion onto surfaces and subsequent formation of biofilm are critical issues for many biomedical and engineering applications. Antimicrobial coatings and non-fouling coatings are two separate strategies to prevent the attachment and spreading of microorganisms onto implantable material surfaces. The major limitation of Antimicrobial coatings is the continued attachment of dead microorganisms on antimicrobial coatings, which can trigger an immune response and inflammation, and block its antimicrobial functional groups. In addition, such antimicrobial coatings cannot fulfill the requirements of non-fouling and biocompatibility as implantable biomaterials. Although non-fouling zwitterionic coatings can reduce initial attachment and delay colonization of microbes on surfaces, there is a possibility of introducing pathogenic microbes into the patient during implantation operations and catheter insertions, resulting in the failure of implanted devices. It will be necessary to use antimicrobial agents to eliminate these microbes. Surface-responsive materials have been developed for a broad spectrum of applications, but it is still a great challenge to develop materials bearing both antimicrobial and non-fouling/biocompatibility capabilities. We are interested in developing self-renewing antimicrobial coatings without microbes remaining on the coated surface using an integrated antimicrobial and nonfouling strategy.
Biomarker detection represents an important task for many scientific fields such as disease diagnosis, biodefense, environmental monitoring, and biological research. Biomarkers are molecular indicators that are used to measure and evaluate biological states of the target subjects. Biomarkers include proteins, polysaccharides, nucleic acid and cells. In medical diagnosis, rapid and quantitative detection of biomarkers plays an important role in early diagnosing many diseases, evaluating the extent of disease, and monitoring the response to therapy. We are working on studying novel methods and chemistry/materials for the rapid and quantitative detection of a variety of biomarkers. This project is currently supported by National Science Foundation.