HOW CAN NANOTECHNOLOGY BEAT CANCER? Using cutting-edge research, we have developed a treatment strategy using starch nanoparticles to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells to increase drug effectiveness. In collaboration with nanotechnology company EcoSynthetix Inc. and Professor Juewen Liu, we are developing a patented drug delivery system that reduces side effects, lowers costs and shows great promise for the future of cancer therapy.
The Nanotechnology Engineering Fourth Year Design Project Symposium is the culmination of work performed over two years of enrollment in the Nanotechnology Engineering program at the University of Waterloo. The event was a resounding success and our group placed second in the Design Project Symposium Awards Ceremony at the end of the day.
We have been invited to present our paper at the 244th ACS National Meeting in August 2012. Our presentation will be paper 42 in the Functional Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications section. Here's our presentation abstract:
The advantages of nanoparticles as vehicles to deliver drugs have been well-studied and characterized; alternatives include polymer-based solutions, liposomes, or core-shell colloidal particles. We developed and examined the use of starch-hydrogel nanoparticles as a targeted delivery vehicle using DNA aptamer-targeting ligands to deliver encapsulated drug specifically to cancer cells. After TEMPO-mediated oxidation of starch hydroxyl moieties to carboxyl functionality, EDC-NHS chemistry linked amine-modified ss-DNA aptamers.in particular, nucleolin-targeting agent (AS1411). Fluorescence and confocal microscopy demonstrated improved targeting using the aptamer, and we observed high cellular internalization of particles. Different starch nanogel particle compositions with doxorubicin were used to measure the effect of hydrogel cross-link density on the drug release profile, which demonstrated potential for this property to better control both the distribution and the release of carried drug. Further, a cell viability study demonstrated superiority over free doxorubicin. Starch-hydrogel nanoparticle vehicles could be a cost-effective method to improve chemotherapy.
In order to better understand the behaviour of the AS1411 aptamer in the body, we made an attempt at a computer simulation of AS1411 using PyMol. This is a physically accurate simulation of the AS1411 aptamer in a vacuum with energy minimization performed for 1000 steps. Improvements to this simulation will be added to this website over the coming months (including a video of AS1411 in a water box). Eventually, a simulation of the behaviour of AS1411 near a lipid membrane, nucleolin and other biological entities will be created and added to this website as well.