Understanding Tissue:Biomaterial Interactions In Light of Their Local Microenvironment 

Immune engineering

Cancer immunotherapy leverages immune cells and cytokines to boost the natural body defense mechanisms to fight cancer. Adequate immunotherapy should enable the recruitment, colonization, and education of effector cells to eliminate tumors.  Understanding the interactions between biomaterials and the immune system along with studying the effects of administration mode, combination therapies, and therapeutic regimen on outcomes would enable the rational design of materials that can induce humoral- and cell-mediated immune responses with long lasting anti-tumor effects.

Tissue Responsive Materials

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.

Nowadays, there is a growing need to enhance the capability of theranostics procedures where nanoparticle-based sensors may provide for the simultaneous detection of several gene-associated conditions and nanodevices with the ability to monitor real-time drug action. These innovative multifunctional nanocarriers for cancer theranostics may allow the development of diagnostic systems such as colorimetric and immunoassays, and for gene therapy, drug delivery and tumor targeting systems.

 

Nanotechnology offers numerous tools to diagnose and treat cancer, such as new imaging agents, multifunctional devices capable of overcome biological barriers to deliver therapeutic agents directly to cells and tissues involved in cancer growth and metastasis, and devices capable of predicting molecular changes in precancerous cells.

Nanomaterials for Cancer Theranostics

Nanocomposite Materials for 

Orthopedics

Orthopedic injuries have the potential to be devastating and affect quality of life. Two specific conditions where this is apparent are focal cartilage defects in the knee and disc degeneration/ osteoporosis in the spine. As the diseased tissue microenvironment is drastically different than the healthy microenvironment, we are working to characterize the tissue, which will better inform material design.  While there are promising drugs and bioactive molecules that can induce osteogenesis and chondrogenesis, clinical success would benefit from local drug administration, which is currently limited by the lack of appropriate delivery vehicles. To increase device adoption by surgeons, the material should be delivered using existing minimally invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy in the knee. Through the creation of an injectable mechanically robust hydrogel that allows for bioactive molecule delivery, we aim to redefine orthopedic repair.