Nanocarriers have been widely explored to improve the biological efficacy of encapsulated drugs. However, nanocarriers have so far failed to show significant accumulation in target sites, even when they are engineered with targeting ligands designed to bind to specific tissues. Their limited targeting efficiency is largely attributed to the existence of complex biological barriers such as the mononuclear phagocyte system and their inability to overcome these barriers. Inspired from erythrocytes that have abilities to maintain lung circulation and negotiate with biological barriers, we explored to develop erythrocyte-inspired Trojan Horse drug delivery systems (“erythrocyte hitchhiking”) for sending drugs to their target sites. In this talk, I will introduce the principles of “erythrocyte hitchhiking” for targeted drug delivery and discuss our recent work on leveraging this concept to address grand challenges in cancer chemotherapy and immunomodulation.
Dr. Zongmin Zhao received his Ph.D. in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and B.S. from East China University of Science and Technology. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Samir Mitragotri at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute at Harvard University. His research has focused on bioinspired and biomimetic strategies for drug delivery, cellular engineering, and immunomodulation. To date, he has published 21 manuscripts in journals including Science Advances, Biomaterials, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews et al. In addition, he is the inventor of several U.S. and international patents. Dr. Zhao’s work has been reported by many news outlets, including Science Daily, Technology Networks, and Science in Boston.