Another great talk this week at MIT from the MNSS Seminar Series to close out the year: on Thursday 12/9 at 3pm MIT Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia will be giving a talk on “Engineering Cooperative Nanosystems for Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy.” The talk will be held on MIT’s campus in Building 36 Room 428.
For more on this work, see the Bhatia lab web page, including links to papers. In addition to their work in nanotechnology, the group has a significant effort in the BioMEMS area as well as hepatic tissue engineering (which has produced startup Hepregen).
Abstract: Our laboratory is interested in engineering tools and systems using multifunctional nanoparticles to transform the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We aim to integrate nanomaterials having enhanced nanoscale properties and bioresponsive functionalities with our knowledge of the tumor microenvironment to explore this paradigm. Towards this aim, we have developed and investigated nanoparticle conjugates based on three nanoparticle cores that harness features of the nanoscale: semiconductor quantum dots that exhibit size-based optical properties, dextran-coated iron oxide particles whose assembly alters the spin-spin relaxation time of hydrogen protons on magnetic resonance imaging, and polymer-coated gold nanorods that interact resonantly with near-infrared light. Our studies have shown how these nanoparticles specifically designed to enhance their interaction with the biological environment can help achieve targeting, triggered self-assembly, remote actuation with radiofrequency fields, sensing of kinase activity, and delivery of short interfering RNAs. In collaboration with Erkki Ruoslahti (Burnham Institute), we have explored how decorating the surface with peptides obtained from an in vivo phage display can alter the properties of these nanoparticles and control their trafficking. To increase the accumulation of the nanoparticles at the tumor site we are exploring in vivo self-assembly of these particles. Our approach is inspired by platelets—natural microparticles that normally circulate in a latent form but can home to sites of injury and transform to an activated state, whereby they adhere and recruit more platelets. This results in assemblies of magnetic nanoparticles that may then acquire emergent properties, allowing either their enhanced visualization or remote actuation of drug delivery. More recently, we have also emulated biological systems where biological components remotely communicate via biological intermediates, such as tissue-resident macrophages that participate in the recruitment of circulating neutrophils. The resultant nanoparticle formulations then act as a “system” to produce emergent behaviors for enhancing diagnosis and therapy. Ultimately, we anticipate that the next-generation therapeutics will be modular components of cooperative systems that provide diagnostic and therapeutic benefits that can be customized for different types of tumors and stages of tumor progression.