Dr. Santosh Aryal
Nanomedicine involves the use of very small chemical constructs (1,000,000 times smaller than a tennis ball) for applications such as cancer diagnosis and treatment. We work at the interface between chemistry, biology and engineering, with a primary focus on addressing the three major challenges in cancer nanomedicine. 1) Physiological defense mechanism - During treatment, nanomedicine encounters the physiological system comprised of blood, serum protein and the immune system. These physiological residents recognize nanomedicine as an invader and try to dislodge it via opsonization (protein absorption), macrophage (immune cell) uptake, or renal excretion, thereby limiting the availability of the drug in the system. 2) Intracellular defense mechanism - Nanomedicine in the cells can be degraded and lose potency during endocytosis. 3) Molecular challenges - Over the course of drug treatment, cells develop drug resistance by altering the drug targets, increasing drug metabolism, and over-expressing drug efflux pump. We seek the solution to these challenges by designing biodegradable and biocompatible polymer conjugates, prodrugs, and multi-compartmental nanomedicines that can avoid physiological resistance, maintain intracellular stability, and overcome drug resistance. Our engineered nanomedicine can be viewed as a platform technology capable of diagnosis and therapy of cancer.