The overall objective of this project is to identify the design rules for fabricating organized gold nanoclusters that have the desired chemical, physical, and optical properties for cancer theranostics, but can also undergo controlled disassembly in vivo to facilitate their complete clearance from the body to ensure their safe application.
Swarnapali Indrasekara (CHEM)
Gold nanomaterials have shown great promise in cancer theranostics due to their excellent chemical and optical properties, but their clinical translation is currently lagging. This is mainly due to the non-directed sequestrations of nanomaterials by the liver and spleen and their incomplete clearance from kidney (renal clearance), which are the two most significant long-term safety concerns that need to be addressed. Therefore, there’s a critical need to design and develop new gold nanoparticle architectures that retain therapeutic properties and also renal clearable. In the absence of such tailored functional gold nanomaterial architectures, the exploitation of the outstanding potentials of gold nanoparticles-based theranostics in the clinics will remain unlikely. Careful design of nanoparticle architectures and interfaces could facilitate complete renal clearance and suppress non-specific organ uptake. However, obtaining gold nanomaterials with the nexus of desired chemical, optical, and therapeutic properties that also have the renal clearable size (<10 nm in diameter) is a challenge.
Figure 1: Left: Schematic representation of our approach for designing and optically characterizing therapeutic gold nanoparticles that can also get cleared from the body upon receiving an external stimulus. Right: Assembly of gold nanoparticles into functional clusters using electrostatic interactions and their optical and morphological characterization using scattering spectroscopy and electron microscopy imaging respectively.
REU Student’s Role
The student will learn how to synthesize gold nanoparticles and use different molecular linkers to assemble and control gold nanoparticles into clusters in a pre-programmed manner. Student’s will also get hands-on using the single particle spectroscopy to characterize the chemical and optical properties of the nanoparticles and also to understand their morphology using electron microscopy techniques.