Multifunctional (Nano)Biomaterials for Cancer Therapy

The complex microenvironment in vivo at different tissue sites with diverse cell types and under different pathological conditions may alter material properties and in turn, affect its in vivo performance. It is crucial, therefore, to carefully study tissue microenvironment and optimize materials in light of the specific conditions in which they will have to perform their function.  We believe that new advances in material design and detailed study of material-tissue interactions can open a new chapter in personalized medicine, where biomaterials are chosen and designed to precisely match the tissue and disease state, with a concomitant improvement in clinical outcomes.  Materials can no longer be considered as ‘one size fits all’ for a broadly defined indication, but should take into account the unique tissue microenvironment of each patient.  This change in approach has been catalyzed by novel imaging and characterization techniques that allow us a more detailed understanding of the disease microenvironment and how it evolves over time.

artziNatalie Artzi is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and a researcher at the Harvard-MIT Division for Health Sciences and Technology. During her PhD at the department of Chemical Engineering at the Technion, Israel, she studied the relationships between structure, properties and performance of materials as related to polymeric nanocomposite systems. As a postdoctoral associate at the Edelman lab, Dr. Artzi worked on the design of smart adhesive materials that are used to seal suture line after internal surgeries, able to sense their environment and react in a graded manner with different target tissues to induce healing and reduce complications associated with leakage. Prof. Artzi’s group integrates synergistically chemistry, materials science, imaging and biology to study the general principles by which materials respond to their environment and interact with tissues. Rational design of complex dynamic materials that serve as a harbor for drugs or cells, are used to modulate embedded drug release kinetics, or seeded cells’ phenotype to achieve desired clinical outcome in inflammatory and neoplastic diseases. Rational and predictive design enables the formation of new therapeutic materials with determinable clinical outcome.