Research Highlight

Unpublished electron microscopy image of hyaluronic acid nanoparticles. The schematic illustrates the “click” chemistry reaction between tetrazine (Tz) and trans-cyclooctene (TCO) used to crosslink the polymeric particles.

Development of a novel nanogel for non-invasive transdermal delivery of cancer vaccines using hyaluronic acid

Drug administration via needle injection requires specialized personnel, causes patient discomfort form the needle, and serves as a potential site of infection. With the advent of nanomedicine, noninvasive drug delivery routes are capable of providing the same efficacy while increasing patient compliancy, comfort and decreasing biohazardous waste. Skin is the first line of defense, preventing pathogens from entering the body by a complex immune system. The efficacy of previously explored topical and transdermal drugs have fallen short in comparison to their injected counterparts due to this significant skin barrier. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a biocompatible, biodegradable, non-toxic and naturally occurring polysaccharide with a hydrophobic patch domain. As HA binds to its receptors in each skin layer, it is broken down into smaller fragments causing the drug carried to be released. Blood and lymphatic vessels located in the dermis layer will absorb the nanoparticle-carrying drug, allowing for a systemic along with a local effect. In this work, a novel nanogel and drug delivery system is formed using HA with “click” chemistry crosslinkers. The nanogel system is optimized by varying the concentrations of each crosslinker and testing each sample via DLS and TEM to determine the size. The free functional group and amphiphilic nature of HA enable the conjugation and encapsulation of several drugs, such as vaccines and anti-inflammatory agents. The proof of concept for each application will be tested via in vitro analysis using keratinocyte cell lines. In vivo studies will consist of bioimaging to specifically track nanoparticle activity and method of action. This nanogel system can be exploited to treat various diseases without needle injection.



Trainee Research

CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine.   Projects performed by current and past participants include:

Delivery of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles via Biodegradable PLGA Dissolving Microneedles for Sustainable Release

Erythropoietin improves antitumor immune response through reversal of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment

Capture of circulating tumor DNA through the use of biotinylated poly-lysine affixed to gold nanoparticles

Localized chemo- and chemo-radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer

Radiation enhancement in cancer cells using gold and gadolinium nanoparticles

Digital diffraction diagnostics for lymphoma and HPV

Injectable thermogelling cisplatin-loaded hydrogels for combined chemo-radiation therapy in cervical cancer

Pharmacokinetic analysis of changes in temozolomide distribution after antiangiogenic treatment of glioblastoma

Nanomedicine for Safe Healing of Bone Trauma

Protein-encapsulated nanoparticles for oral delivery of anti-mitotic agents in prostate cancer

Inhibiting DNA repair after nanoparticle-amplified radiation therapy

Identification of novel therapeutic targets of the Notch1 signaling pathway

Combined delivery of targeted liposomal chemotherapeutics and photodynamic therapy to treat pancreatic cancer

Co-delivery of antibiotics and topoisomerase inhibitors to overcome chemoresistance

Co-delivery of protective substrate and chemotherapy drugs via lipid Bilayer Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Targeting CXCR4/SDF-1a using phytochemicals to inhibit progression and metastasis of pancreatic cancer

Software with built-in neuroanatomy atlas provides insight into cancer treatment

Optimizing murine cells for in vitro modeling of high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Radiotherapeutic synergism of thermogelling cisplatin-loaded polymers for cervical cancer treatment

Investigating the use of iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO)-bearing PEG-like nanoprobes as a multifunctional agent for cancer therapy and PET imaging

Surface-targeting, ligand-switching nanoparticles for mitochondrial drug delivery in prostate cancer

In vivo imaging of targeted drug delivery to HER2 positive cancer cells

T1-weighted imaging of primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma using magnetic ferumoxytol nanoparticles

Identifying genomic and compound dependencies in undifferentiated sarcomas

Analysis of DREAM and E2F1 Competition for Cell Cycle Promoters during G1.

Soleil Doggett (Biology, '16) talks to her fellow peers about her research on oxygenating tumors to stimulate the anti-tumor immune response.


Trainee e-portfolios

Photo credit: Tom Kates Photography

While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio.  This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine.  These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles.  The complete collection may be found here.

Check out this month’s featured e-portfolios by Rachel Fontana and Jordan Harris!


Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day

At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.  In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards.  Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!

Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!

Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award