Health care is another application area in which functional nanomaterials show great promise. Centre research efforts  focus on nanomaterials for drug and gene delivery, bactericidal coatings and materials for bioseparation and biosensing.


 

  • Preparation and encapsulation of CdTe QDs for bioimaging, Gordon Xu, Yian Zhu (PhD Student)

    Quantum dots (QD), such as CdTe, are found to be highly fluorescent, and are very promising imaging agents. However, the leaching of the toxic heavy metal ion and the liability to the oxidation in the physiological conditions limit the applications as the biomarker, therefore the goal of this project is to chemically protect QDs by coating them with silica (QDs@SiO2), in order to reduce the leaching of the heavy metal ions and the oxidation of Te. These coated QDs@SiO2 is then conjugated with some functional biospecies for target imaging.  

  • Modification of LDH NPs for in vivo gene and drug delivery, Gordon Xu, Zi Gu


    Layered double hydroxide (LDH) nanoparticles (NPs) are an efficient cellular delivery vehicle for many negatively charged chemical species, such as anticancer drugs (methotrexate and fluorouracil), anti-restenotic drug (heparin), nucleotides (ATP, ADP) and oligonucleotides (RNA and DNA). However, when injected, LDH NPs tend to aggregate, leading to rapid clearance from the bloodstream, resulting in low in vivo delivery efficiency. This project investigates the modification of LDH NPs by coating with specific serum proteins to reduce LDH aggregation in serum and PBS. This is based on the hypothesis that serum proteins can be strongly attached to the surface of LDH NPs, thus maintaining their colloidal stability and protecting them against adsorption of opsonic proteins following intravenous injection. 
  • Preparation of SiO2 dot-coated LDH for Drug/gene delivery, Gordon Xu, Li Li

    This project proposes to modify LDH nanoparticles (110 nm) with SiO2 dots (10-20 nm), and then further functionalise the system with PEG for drug/gene delivery.  We have found that SiO2 dots can be very evenly deposited on the LDH surface. The further functionalisation and the relevant in vitro and in vivo delivery are underway.

     
  • Design nanocarriers for targeted hydrophobic anticancer drug delivery with enhanced bioavailability, Jian Liu, Gordon Xu

  • Liposome-entrapped LDH nanoparticles for treatment of cancers, Gordon Xu, Hanyan Dong (PhD Student)


    This project aims to develop a new hybrid delivery system to efficiently deliver genes and/or drugs to cancer cells both in vitro and vivo. The hybrid system is constructed by entrapping LDH nanoparticles (20-40 nm) using lipid materials,  taking advantages of both liposome and LDH materials in loading and delivering of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to cancer cells.  The constructed hybrid delivery system can be readily functionalised with the target biomolecules, such as antibody to cancers. The construction is then optimised in terms of cellular tranfection percentage, cancer cell targeting and in vivo treatment efficiency. 

  • LDH-based protein vaccine adjuvants, Gordon XuBarbara Rolfe,  Shiyu Yan (MPhil Student)


    Vaccines are highly successful public health interventions. However, the majority of vaccine antigens currently under investigation are purified proteins with little or no inherent immuno-stimulatory capacity. They therefore require the addition of an adjuvant to stimulate a long-lasting and protective immune response. The commonly used FDA-approved adjuvant Alum is moderately effective in promoting protective antibody responses. Fortunately, our recent research has demonstrated that chemically related clay-based (e.g. MgAl-layered double hydroxide (LDH)) nanoparticles formulated with ovalbumin promote a stronger antibody response. The goal of this proposal is to develop novel LDH-based nano-adjuvants that can promote strong humoral and cellular immune responses. The strategy is to understand the antigen-LDH interactions when the LDH particle size, the LDH-antigen ratio and the LDH composition/strucutre are varied, and reveal the subsequent effect on the antibody and cellular immune responses.

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