Image by National Cancer Institute

Research

Our research focuses on the development of novel non-viral strategies for effective in vitro and in vivo intracellular delivery and their related therapeutic and basic biological applications. To achieve our goal, we apply the cutting-edge technology, including nano and micro chip fabrication, microfluidics, and nanomaterial synthesis, to construct the delivery systems.

 

Developing in vivo mRNA Delivery Systems for mRNA Gene Therapies and Vaccines with Nanotechnology

Image by Aron Visuals

There has been increasing interest in the use of messenger RNA for the development of future therapeutic modality. Though great efforts have been made to the development of mRNA-based therapies, such as infectious disease vaccines, cancer vaccines, therapeutic protein replacement, and treatment of genetic diseases, a major hurdle that prevents the successful translation of  mRNA molecules into clinical drugs remains to be the lacking of highly efficient and targeting specific intracellular delivery system for mRNA molecules.


Our lab, together with other teams at the National Center of Nanoscience and Technology, aims to develop next generation intracellular delivery systems with nanotechnology that allows highly efficient and targeting specific delivery of mRNA in vivo to support the development of mRNA gene therapy.

Manufacturing Induce Pluripotent Stem Cells Based on Highly Efficient and Zero-Footprint Nanostructure Delivery Platforms

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Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are novel cell sources for realizing personalized regenerative medicine. As iPSCs are derived from the issues of recipient patients, they resolve two major issues in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs): (1) immune rejection and (2) the ethical concerns regarding the destruction of embryos. However, the concept of hiPSCs remains in preclinical study. The major challenges of hiPSCs, including safety, efficiency, and efficacy of iPSCs-based derivatives are needed to be carefully addressed before clinical practice occurs.  


     In this project, our group is aiming to address the current challenges of hiPSCs by developing highly efficient and zero-footprint hiPSCs reprogramming strategies based on nanostructure platforms. 

Developing the Next Generation Cell Therapy

Embryonic Stem Cells

     Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR) immune cell therapy is one of the most promising treatments for curing cancers. While this new therapy brings light to the cancer patients, the sky price that can exceed 1.5 million US dollars per CAR-T cell treatment limits the accessibility to most of the cancer patients. Additionally, CAR-T therapy shows limited modest success for targeting solid tumors, due to lack of appropriate immunologic targets and antigen escape phenomenon. Genomic Engineered CAR Natural Killer (NK) cell provides an alternative solution. Yet, the development of CAR-NK cell therapy is still in its infancy. One main challenge associated with it is the low effective genetic manipulation methods.


     The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce the cost of the immunotherapy and broaden its applications for solid tumor treatment by developing a scalable, nondisruptive, highly efficient non-viral delivery system for T and NK cells genome engineering. 

Developing Nano Drug Carriers for Highly Efficient Genetic Engineering of Mature Intact Plants 

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Plant genetic engineering is one of the key technology for breeding new varieties of crops and vegetables, and for understanding plant cellular metabolic pathways.  It allows direct transfer of one or more genes of interest between either closely or distantly related species to obtain the desired agronomic traits. The conventional methods for plant genetic engineering require viruses or Agrobacterium-mediated delivery that exhibit limitations in host plant species and their use can result in uncontrolled DNA integration into the plant host genome.


In this project, we aim to develop versatile non-viral intracellular delivery systems based on nanotechnology to realize effective gene manipulation in mature intact plants.