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Chemical Engineering

Polymeric Nanomaterials for Drug Delivery Applications

Polymeric nanomaterials can be used as drug carriers that control the time, rate and place of drug release in the body in order to minimize side effects and improve therapeutic efficacy. Key to the successful drug delivery is the design of functional polymeric nanomaterials based on the drug's properties and application. We are engineering polymeric nanomaterials for the delivery of drugs with an emphasis on gaseous signal-transmitter molecules. We design and synthesize polymeric nanoparticles using various polymerization techniques, such as reversible addition-fragmentation transfer (RAFT) polymerization and aqueous dispersion polymerization, as well as evaluate biological activities of these nanoparticles in cell culture and biological systems.

Polymeric gas donor micelles
Gaseous signal-transmitter molecules such as nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) have the potential to act as therapeutic agents to treat pathological conditions like cancers and cardiovascular diseases by regulating various signaling pathways. Toward the controlled delivery of these gaseous drugs to the target cells/tissues in the body, we are developing gas-releasing polymeric micelles, which are nanosized aggregates prepared from amphiphilic block copolymers, using controlled/living radical polymerization techniques. We are also evaluating their biological activity in macrophages, endothelial cells and cancer cells.

Antioxidant Polymeric micelles
Overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), superoxide anion (O2•-) and hydroxyl radical (OH), induces tissue damage and inflammation, which results in the initiation and progression of cancer and inflammatory diseases. Therefore, scavenging of endogenously produced ROS is of interest for treating these conditions. We are developing polymeric micelles with ROS scavenging moieties with long-lasting antioxidative activity. We are also testing their anti-angiogenic and anti-cancer effects in cell culture assays.

Phenylboronic Acid-bearing Framboidal Nanoparticles
Polymeric nanomaterials containing phenylboronic acid (PBA) groups have attracted considerable attention, especially in the field of biomedical engineering, due to their stimuli-responsiveness and chemical reactivity. We have developed a novel method to synthesize monodisperse PBA-containing polymeric nanoparticles with a unique framboidal morphology by aqueous dispersion polymerization. We are exploring the potential applications of these nanoparticles in drug delivery.