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Shirley X.Y. Wu
Advanced Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Laboratory
The goal of our research is to develop new drug delivery strategies & systems to enhance treatment of diseases such as cancer & diabetes. Innovative approaches have been undertaken to achieve this goal by integrating nano- and micro-technology, computer simulation, pharmaceutical, pharmacological, physiopathological, and molecular approaches. Our research program is highly interdisciplinary which bridges bio-sciences, material sciences, engineering and pharmaceutics with clinical applications. Our research team consists of students, postdocs and scientists from various science and engineering fields. We collaborate with researchers and industrial partners in diverse disciplines ranging from surgical and radiation oncology, physiology, cellular and molecular biology, biophysics, polymer chemistry, molecular imaging, nanotechnology, MEMS/NEMS to pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The following highlights our main research interests and current research activities:
Creation and In vitro/in vivo evaluation of nano- and microparticulate drug carriers and drug delivery strategies for enhanced treatment of multidrug resistant (MDR) and metastatic cancers. We are investigating novel drug combination formulations for targeted and locoregional delivery of anticancer drugs, therapeutic genes, polypeptides and proteins. We have demonstrated much higher cytotoxicity and therapeutic efficacy by using these delivery systems and combinations. We are also exploiting innovative delivery technologies and delivery routes for increased therapeutic effects, reduced systemic toxicity, and improved quality of life of cancer patients. Our current project focuses on improving chemotherapy of MDR and metastatic breast cancer.
Bio- and environment-responsive nanomaterials and intelligent drug delivery systems are being developed for closed-loop drug delivery, such as glucose-responsive insulin delivery, and for site-specific and targeted drug delivery. We have synthesized stimulus-responsive nano-hydrogels and bio-inorganic hybrid nanocomposite materials and studied their physicochemical properties and interactions with proteins, cells and tissues. We have devised an "intelligent" membrane platform technology that enables alteration of release rate of drugs, protein and polypeptides in response to various physical, chemical and biochemical triggers. We are now developing this platform technology into medical devices and pharmaceutical products.
Mechanistic studies, mathematical modeling and computer simulation are being conducted to understand molecular bases of drug loading and release mechanisms, predict release kinetics, and to optimize the design of advanced Controlled Release Dosage Forms (CRDF). Using effective numerical tools, such as the finite element method, and in-house computer programs, we are examining new design concepts, analyzing the effects of design, formulation and external conditions on drug release kinetics, and predicting in vivo performance of CRDF. This research activity will lead to Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) of new CRDF including oral Modified Release Dosage Forms (MRDF).
New and nanostructured pharmaceutical materials for drug delivery. With collaboration of polymer chemists and industrial partners, we are developing new and nanostructured pharmaceutical materials with multiple functions and/or "intelligence" useful for controlled drug delivery and pharmaceutical products. We have introduced techniques from other engineering fields to pharmaceutics and are pursuing innovative techniques with collaborators in MEMS and nanotechnology for studying dynamic properties of pharmaceutical materials and drug delivery systems on a micro-/nanoscale. This research activity also complements the efforts in the mechanistic studies and rational design of CRDF.