University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

CBE Seminar - Engineering Gold Nanoparticles for Targeted Dr

Thursday, April 19, 2018
9:30am – 10:30am

Storrs Campus
UTEB 150

Engineering Gold Nanoparticles for Targeted Drug Delivery and Toxicity Studies

Dr. Guangzhao Mao Professor & Department Chair Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science Wayne State University

Gold nanoparticles are promising drug carriers due to their general biocompatibility, tunable colloidal chemistry, and quality control through a wide range of analytical methods. Our work focuses on the engineering of gold nanoparticle/drug conjugates for the treatment of respiratory dysfunction caused by spinal cord injury. The leading causes of death among persons with spinal cord injury are from pneumonia and septicemia due to damage to respiratory muscle function caused by the initial injury. Adenosine receptor antagonists, such as theophylline, are used to treat patients with spinal cord injury by stimulating phrenic nerve cells and contraction of the paralyzed diaphragm. However, in humans the therapeutic dose of theophylline causes intolerable side effects including nausea and seizures due to nonspecific biodistribution and neuronal hyperactivity induced by the drug. Therefore we designed a nanoconjugate in which the drug and a targeting retrograde transporter protein, wheat germ agglutinin horseradish peroxidase, are chemically linked through a gold nanoparticle carrier in order to deliver the drug selectively to the respiratory neurons in the cervical spinal cord and medulla. The effectiveness of the nanoconjugate drug delivery was verified by the return of diaphragm muscle function previously paralyzed due to spinal cord injury. By targeting the drug, the nanoconjugate design promises to eliminate unwanted side effects by requiring a smaller effective dose and more persistent recovery after a single injection. In a separate study, we explored the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) for assessing nanotoxicity, specifically, the effect of gold nanoparticles of different core sizes on the viability, pluripotency, neuronal differentiation, and DNA methylation of hESCs. Our work identified a type of gold nanoparticles, 1.5 nm thiolate-capped gold nanoparticles, to be highly toxic to hESCs. Our work further demonstrated the potential of hESCs in predicting nanotoxicity and characterizing their ability to alter the DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation patterns in the cells.

Professor Guangzhao Mao received her B.S. degree in chemistry from Nanjing University, China and her PhD degree in chemical engineering from University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul. She is currently a Professor and Department Chair of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Wayne State University. Professor Mao is also a member of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and an adjunct faculty of the Biomedical Engineering Department. The Mao research group develops a wide range of nanomaterials including molecular nanowires for electrochemical sensing, gold nanoparticle carriers for targeted drug delivery in spinal cord injury and cancer therapies,


Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (primary), Biomedical Engineering , School of Pharmacy, UConn Health Biomedical Engineering, UConn Master Calendar

Control Panel