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Center of Excellence for Nano-Medicine and Engineering (CNME)

Cnme

Silica Nanoscale Wiffle Balls (SNWB) developed at UCSD have dual scale porosity with larger size pores enabling efficient loading of the enzymes and smaller pores that enable interaction of the enzymes once sealed inside with the small pro-drug molecules

Co-directors
Adah Almutairi, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Ratnesh Lal, Professor of Bioengineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The CNME builds on Prof. Almutairi's prior Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine. Updates to this page are in process.

Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology in health research and translation to prevent and treat human diseases. Sub-cellular components and viruses exist and operate at the nanoscale and thus, nanomedicine involves the development of medical applications at the most basic scale of the human body. Some of the potential applications of nanomedicine include:

  • - In the nearest term, drug delivery systems to improve bioavailability and pharmacokinetic compatibility, targeted imaging contrast agents for MRI and Ultrasound techniques, and assistance in surgical procedures such as determining surgery margins;
  • - In the medium term, applications to artificial tissues and organs and engineered enzymes; and
  • - In the longer term, ultimately nano-devices that can be programmed and controlled to target and repair individual cells.

The mission of the IEM Center of Excellence for Nano-Medicine and Engineering (CNME) is to synergize the expertise in nanotechnology, bioengineering and medical research in the San Diego community and to translate it to the clinic. Because of its multidisciplinary nature, nanomedicine can benefit immensely from collaboration between Engineering and the Health Sciences. UCSD has one of the few engineering schools (JSOE) that can provide expertise and collaboration in bio-nanotechnology with its recently established NanoEngineering department (one of the first in the nation) in close collaboration with its world renown Bioengineering department in areas emphasized by Health Scinece including oncology research at the Moores Cancer Center, new imaging and surgical modalities at the departments of radiology and surgery, applications of nanotechnology to treating eye disease at the Shiley Eye Institute, and cell biology and regenerative medicine research at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

There have been significant interactions between the School of Medicine (SOM) and the Jacobs School of Engineering (JSOE) in this inherently multidisciplinary field of Nanomedicine. One such interaction has led to the successful establishment of the NanoTumor Center of Excellence for Cancer Nanotechnology within the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD funded by NCI. Very promising results obtained so far for imaging contrast agents and targeted drug delivery using nanoparticles in cancer models indicate the great potentials for scientific discoveries and clinical translation in research offered by nanomedicine.

It is only natural to expand UCSD’s activities in the area of Nanomedicine from cancer nanotechnology to new application areas, for example including nanosurgery techniques, artificial tissues, and engineered enzymes taking advantage of the untapped capabilities of nanotechnology in

  • - nano-delivery of drugs/enzymes, virus/nucleic acids, etc., to tumors or treat ocular/retinal disease;
  • - nano-targeted gene therapy where nanoparticles could be used to insert healthy genes to replace damaged ones;
  • - nano-sensing to identify foreign substances in the body and alter genes to correct genetic disorders or monitor the condition of patients and release hormones or medication as needed;
  • - nano separation as a dialysis approach to prevent, e.g., sepsis by filtering out pathogens directly in blood; for allowing essential nutrients to pass while blocking out contaminants in implantable artificial organ components for treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease;
  • - nano-coating of stents and sensors to prevent bio fouling

While nanomedicine has great promises in healthcare, it also has the potential for unintended consequences raising ethical concerns. The toxicity of nanoparticles is currently undetermined. It is therefore imperative to be cautious and assess the potential risks of human toxicity, an important area of present research focus. Such joint activities will increase our understanding of nanomedicine, enhance our ability to control and understand disease at the sub-cellular level, and create new clinical approaches for effective medical therapies, making them more cost-effective. Such activities will involve collaboration with clinical colleagues and industry. Although the initial phase will be focused in the Health Sciences and JSOE, this will be extended to other Divisions and Schools at UCSD.

While nanomedicine has great promises in healthcare, it also has the potential for unintended consequences raising ethical concerns. The toxicity of nanoparticles is currently undetermined. It is therefore imperative to be cautious and assess the potential risks of human toxicity, an important area of present research focus. Such joint activities will increase our understanding of nanomedicine, enhance our ability to control and understand disease at the sub-cellular level, and create new clinical approaches for effective medical therapies, making them more cost-effective. Such activities will involve collaboration with clinical colleagues and industry. Although the initial phase will be focused in the Health Sciences and JSOE, this will be extended to other Divisions and Schools at UCSD.

Press

IEM Member Adah Almutairi’s lab discovers new light-triggered release mechanism

Center Contacts

For more information about this center please contact the principal investigators