Biofunctional nanotherapeutics lab

​Research group leader: Alexandra Stubelius, Assistant Professor

The goal of any successful therapy should be to improve clinical outcomes and ultimately restore normal tissue function. In Alexandra Stubelius' research team, we study and develop nanosystems and materials that take advantage of inflammation to target drug delivery and induce natural cell signaling. As inflammation contributes to a wide variety of disorders, including cancer and autoimmune diseases, these technologies can manage and improve the health and quality of a broad range of patients.

One of the biggest challenges for future medicine is to deliver treatments and drugs directly to the target, the diseased area in the body. Many drugs that otherwise work well are eliminated too fast, are toxic when in the wrong place, or are difficult to solubilize. Drug delivery research aims to improve a drug's effects, reduce its side effects, and improve cost-effectiveness and adherence. Patient adherence to follow recommended treatments is a significant issue because the lack of medication leads to worsening of symptoms and potential hospitalization. The reduced adherence can be due to forgetfulness or experienced side effects. Therefore, the goal for future medications should simplify dosing schedules as well as to deliver the drugs to the intended target and eliminate side effects.

Because chemical reactions and cell interactions occur at the nanoscale, it is beneficial to tackle a disease with tools adapted to this level. By designing these nanovesicles to regulate the inflammatory reaction, we can stop inflammation as early as possible with minimal drug amounts, and also increase tissue healing, as it is increasingly recognized that immune cells actively regulate tissue regeneration.

To design these materials, we combine the knowledge of pharmaceutical scientists, immunologists, bio-, chemical-, nano-, and material engineers, and clinicians. By delicately fine-tuning the materials' properties towards their intended purposes, tissue environments, and physical properties, we regulate immune responses to achieve improved health outcomes. Our research explores the interactions between polymeric biofunctional nanoparticles and the immune system, both regarding material properties and the potential nanoparticle load. To achieve reduced inflammation with the minimum amount of drug needed, we use both conventional anti-inflammatory drugs loaded into nanoparticles, or repurposed drugs. We also develop nanosystems that modify the inflammatory response to induce or restore protein and metabolic signaling.

Published: Thu 23 Jan 2020.