1. Smart anti-cancer drug delivery. Cancer therapies generally show low efficiency and high toxicity after systemic administration. It is generally caused by the low stability of protein-based cancer therapies as well as unwanted accumulation of the drugs in normal tissues. We have developed several nanoparticle-based delivery systems for targeted delivery of anticancer drugs in vitro and in vivo, including Doxorubicin, TRAIL, and anti-PD1.
2. Targeted genome editing in vivo. The CRISPR-based genome editing tool has shown great promise in treating genetic diseases. It can interact with the genome of a cell to induce therapeutic genetic changes. However, there are a lot of physiological barriers that prevent the CRISPR system from reaching the genome of cells. Efficient delivery systems that can load the CRISPR system and overcome the multiple physiological barriers are key to realize the therapeutic potential of CRISPR. We have demonstrated a non-viral nano-carrier that can deliver the CRISPR system into mammalian cells. This carrier is biocompatible, customizable, and efficient. By incorporating a stimuli-responsive layer and targeting ligands, the nanocarrier can deliver the CRISPR system to the targeted tissue in a smart manner.
3. Minimally invasive devices. Skin is a common barrier that blocks pathogens from accessing the blood circulation, but it also impedes the administration of therapeutic molecules as well as the extraction of body fluids. We have engineered a microneedle patch from a biocompatible hydrogel derived from gelatin. Numerous applications have been demonstrated for the gelatin-derived microneedle patch. It has been used for the delivery of water-soluble anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) as well as water-insoluble anticancer drug curcumin. It has been applied to deliver genetic cargo, a plasmid DNA, for the transdermal expression of a gene. It has also been engineered for the extraction of interstitial fluid, which provides valuable health information on the subject.
4. Organ-on-a-chip systems. Organ-on-a-chips are novel platforms for modelling biology on microfluidic chips, including cancer. Interaction between different cell types within the tumor microenvironment could be simulated on the chip. Further integration with high throughput analysis approach could enable rapid assay of tumor responses. We have developed micro-chip-based platform to test the response of cancer cells and cardiac cells to anticancer drugs.