Our primary focus is on leveraging nanotechnology for developing novel and safe theranostic and preventative agents.
Our fundamental goals are to understand, control and exploit the light-material interactions for biomedical applications. Understanding of photon-nanomaterial interactions will allow rational selection of nanomaterials that are optimal for achieving specific desired healthcare outcomes. For example, fullerenes with the best photothermal and photoacoustic properties can be utilized for safe, non-invasive & effective imaging and treatment of cancer. Similarly, fullerenes that are excellent electron relays can be employed for development of novel anti-inflammatory & anti-cancer agents. The control of electronic & optical properties of fullerenes will allow optimization of electron relay, aggregation, dispersion, photothermal, photoacoustic and magnetic resonance properties, which will be utilized for safe & non-invasive prevention and treatment of cancer.
The understanding of light-nanomaterials interactions are currently leveraged for developing following biomedical applications:
A. Novel, Highly Effective and Long-Lasting Sunscreens
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the most common, and also the most preventable, cause of skin cancers. Sunscreens, even when applied optimally, have been shown to only partially reduce the incidence of UV-induced skin cancer. The major limitations of current sunscreens are poor stability resulting in ephemeral efficacy (requiring frequent reapplication), and the potential to cause skin irritation. Current sunscreen formulations contain multiple active ingredients including UV absorbers, stabilizers and antioxidants. Common organic UV-absorbers (e.g., avobenzone) and antioxidants (e.g., homosalate) are easily degraded by the UV or by free radicals generated by other ingredients and stabilizers are required. Polyhydroxy fullerenes (PHF) has the potential to be an effective, multifunctional active of sunscreen that replaces the multiple actives of current sunscreens. We are leveraging nanotechnology for designing controlled-release formulations for long-lasting sunscreens that not only prevent sunburn, but also prevents skin cancer.
B. Multifunctional Molecules for Safe and Non-Invasive Imaging and Treatment
We are exploiting the photothermal and photoacoustic properties of polyhydroxy fullerenes for non-invasive treatment of breast cancer. Inclusion of gadolinium atoms inside fullerene cage imparts it with excellent contrast properties for magnetic resonance imaging, thereby facilitating MRI-guided non-invasive treatment of cancer.
In other words ...
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the USA; an estimated 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year and more than half a million people will die of the disease. We are leveraging nanotechnology to design next-generation nano-engineered materials (NEMs) for non-invasive therapies and prevention of cancer. Every year in the USA, doctors diagnose over 1 million new cases of skin cancer, more than all other cancers combined. Too much sun exposure causes sunburn immediately and, over the years in severe cases, leads to skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend sun avoidance and application of sunscreens to protect against these harmful effects of sunlight. However, avoiding the sun may be difficult in military environments and in tropical regions. Current sunscreens only partially protect the skin from harmful sunlight and have failed to reduce the incidence of skin cancer. This may be because ingredients used today stop working after only a few hours and can irritate the skin. We are designing novel sunscreens that are long-lasting, non-irritating, and effective in protecting skin from harmful sunlight. Getting an accurate picture of changes going on inside the body is vital if cancers are to be caught and treated effectively; however, there is always a delay between scheduling the patient to get images that may show any cancers and actually starting the treatment. We are researching how to combine imaging and treatment so that both can be done at the same visit, with no delay. We work with very tiny structures, much smaller than a human hair (which is about 90,000 nanometers thick), which we call nanoengineered materials (NEM). These NEMs improve the contrast and clearness of images from two major imaging methods doctors rely on (one using magnetic forces and one using laser/ultrasound). Tumors can be destroyed noninvasively (without surgery) by shining low-intensity lasers on NEMs within the tumors. Our unique NEMs are made to give patients safe, non-invasive, and localized (not whole-body) treatment.
|2015||US 9,084,989||Enhancement of electron scavenging by water-soluble fullerenes|
|2015||US 9,011,309||Devices for thermally induced transformations controlled by irradiation of functionalized fullerenes|
|2015||US 8,986,516||Optical release of hydrogen from functionalized fullerenes as storage materials|
|2015||US 8,974,644||Production of carbon nanostructures from functionalized fullerenes|
|2014||US 8,883,124||Use of fullerenes for photoacoustic imaging|
|2014||US 8,709,217||Production of carbon nanostructures from functionalized fullerenes|
|2013||US 8,373,139||Optical luminescence of functionalized fullerenes in vacuum or oxygen-free environment|
|2012||US 8,105,754||Functionalized fullerenes for nanolithography applications|
|2009||US 7,541,509||Photocatalytic nanocomposites and applications thereof|
|2005||ZA 2004/02951, BRPI 0213750||Detergent bar composition and process for its manufacture|
|2005||CN 1,675,349||Process for detergent bar manufacture|
A new study led by Vijay Krishna, PhD, Lerner Research Institute Department of Biomedical Engineering, offers an innovative, feasible and cost- and labor-efficient solution to a problem that challenges many healthcare systems: hospital-acquired infections. The researchers show that a chemical compound, when exposed to visible light, can effectively degrade organic surface contaminants. This discovery may help improve patient health, hospital readmission rates and operating costs.