Adah Almutairi, PhD
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Nanoengineering, Materials Science and Engineering Program, UC San Diego
Hosted by Suzie Pun
The Art of Falling Apart: Exploiting Nanomaterial Disassembly for Health Sciences
This presentation will explore our lab’s recent progress in designing nanomaterials that fall apart in response to biological or external triggers and demonstrating their feasibility for use in imaging and drug delivery. Most notably, we have developed polymeric nanoparticles that degrade to release their contents in response to the biochemical characteristics of inflammation (~100 µM H2O2) and low power near infrared, which can safely penetrate living tissue. We are examining the use of the inflammation-responsive material for disease-specific drug delivery in models of arthritis and in activatable MRI/near infrared imaging agents, and the use of light-responsive particles for on-demand drug release in the eye to treat retinal degeneration.
Other materials under development include a variety of light-responsive polymers that degrade rapidly because they are designed to cyclize upon irradiation, and a polymer that degrades in response to visible wavelengths, which should enable triggered release through skin without complex pulsed lasers. We have also recently introduced a method to tune pH-responsive release rates of growth factors that maintains the structural integrity and activity of these delicate proteins. This approach could find use in combination with our facile, scalable method of creating layered tissue culture scaffolds to control cell fates in both space and time. We are currently applying this density modifier-based method toward the development of an in vitro model of 3D organized neural development.
Adah Almutairi is the director of UC San Diego's Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine and Engineering, a rapidly expanding interdisciplinary research collaborative developing tools for the future of biology and medicine (part of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine). Her own research group, the Laboratory for Bioresponsive Materials, creates novel smart materials for on-demand drug delivery, regeneration of damaged tissue, and safe image-based diagnosis. She came to UC San Diego in 2008 from UC Berkeley, where she worked with Professor Jean Fréchet to develop several nanoprobes for in vivo imaging. Prior to that, she completed her PhD in Materials Chemistry at UC Riverside on polymers for electromechanical actuation. Prof. Almutairi has won an NIH New Innovator Award and been invited to speak at universities and conferences around the world, from Stockholm, Sweden, to Doha, Qatar, to Changchun, China.