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UCSB is Only University to Participate in Two PEN Nanotech Grants
Developing Novel Technologies to Diagnose and Treat Diseases of the Heart and Lungs
The University of California, Santa Barbara, has been chosen to participate in two interdisciplinary, multi-university research efforts as a Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology (PEN). The awards by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are part of NIH's strategy to accelerate progress in medical research through innovative technology and interdisciplinary research. Both research efforts bring together bioengineers, materials scientists, biologists and physicians working in interdisciplinary teams.
The team coordinated by Profess Karen L. Wooley at Washington University in St. Louis and led at UCSB by Professor Craig Hawker will use nanoscale materials as carriers for diagnostic systems and to deliver therapeutic agents. A major goal will be to develop ways to trigger a breakdown of the nanoparticles after a payload, such as a drug or antiviral agent, is delivered to a diseased zone. Targeted nanoparticles will search out arteries that are under stress or are diseased.
The group coordinated by The Burnham Institute will build "delivery vehicles" than can be used to transport drugs, imaging agents and nano-devices directly to locations where there is vulnerable plaque; design molecular nano-stents to physically stabilize vulnerable plaque and replace its fibrous cap with an anti-adhesive, anti-inflammatory surface; devise molecular switches that can sense and respond to the pathophysiology of atheroma (fatty deposits on arterial walls); and develop bi-nanoelectromechanical systems (called BioNEMS) that can sense and respond to vulnerable plaque, ultimately providing diagnostic and therapeutic capability.
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