Health + Medicine

Rapid advances in health-related nanoscience are creating a new frontier for precision medicine. Lensless microscopy, on-chip diagnostic sensors and screening devices, nanoparticle drug delivery methods, targeted antibiotics and cancer drugs, and high-throughput drug discovery are at the forefront of translating interdisciplinary research into individualized treatments. Diverse teams of CNSI nanoscientists are pursuing answers to the most serious and perplexing medical questions in illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and autism; and bacterial behaviors and functions that have come into recent focus with the explosion of knowledge on the importance of the human body’s unseen bacterial universe – the microbiome. CNSI’s collaborative atmosphere encourages medical researchers to engage with engineers, chemists, and physicists to address complex problems by leveraging pooled talent and resources. The proximity of CNSI to UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research encourages powerful collaborations among world-class scientists.

Nanomedicines for Cancer

CNSI scientists are developing new techniques to utilize nanotechnology for targeted deliver of therapeutic drugs tuned to specifically target cancer sites in the body.   For example, Andre Nel and colleagues’s work in pancreatic cancer has led to the development and preclinical testing of a smart nanocarrier, the “silicasome”, which is capable of delivering optimal amounts of chemotherapeutic agents directly to tumors with decreased side effects and increased efficacy.  The approach is remarkably clever and powerful, and it has attracted significant attention in the field as well as the interest of investors.  This has led to the recent launch of our newest startup company, Westwood Biosciences Inc., which is focused on bringing silicasome technology to the clinic as rapidly as possible, and on expanding its applications to numerous other types of cancer.

Precision Antibiotics

Research in the development of precision antiobiotics, led by CNSI Director Jeff F. Miller, has resulted in the creation of a “programmable” nanoparticle-based platform for rapidly producing precision antibiotics that can kill bacterial pathogens that are resistant to current drugs. Last August, the US had its first case of a bacterial infection that was resistant to every available antibiotic. This is a global trend that is increasing unabated, and both big and small pharma are failing to innovate. Our technology is the product of an integrated approach involving CNSI electron imaging and nanoengineering capabilities, and it represents a paradigm shift in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.

Stem Cell Nanomedicine

The goal of our newest CNSI initiative, conducted in partnership with the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Center, is to create nanotechnologies and nanomaterials for manipulating stem cell development and guiding tissue regeneration. Using a modest amount of seed money we have launched a multidisciplinary team to work on a new scaffold designed to accelerate healing after acute cardiac injury, in a manner that minimizes scarring and regenerates healthy heart tissue. This is one of several efforts we hope to launch that leverages synergy between stem cell medicine and nanosciences to deliver minimally invasive therapies for currently intractable diseases.

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April 2, 2024 | Lessons with Lenny

April 2, 2024 | Lessons with Lenny

The most abundant particle of every cell of your body is something you have most likely never heard of - the vault and Dr. Lenny Rome wants to help you understand it. A new online video series “The Vault Guy” aims to teach cell biology to non-cell biologists and help...

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