Our Research

Our lab designs and synthesizes Janus base nanomaterials, and develops their biomedical applications in three areas:

1) Molecular engineering using medicinal chemistry approaches

     Utilizing molecular design, organic synthesis and computational modeling approaches, we design, synthesize and characterize a family of small molecules with multiple hydrogen donor-acceptor pairs, named “Janus bases“. Mimicking DNA base pairs, these Janus bases can self-assemble into various 2D nanorosettes and 3D nanotubes (as shown below).


2) Drug and gene delivery against arthritis and pain, brain diseases and cancer

     We assemble Janus bases with drugs and therapeutic RNAs or DNAs to generate “4D” non-covalent nanodevices, named “Nanopieces“. Superior than conventional drug delivery vehicles, these tiny, nano-rod shaped Nanopieces can penetrate into deep tissues with dense extracellular matrix such as cartilage, brain and solid tumors.

     As below, the video below demonstrated green fluorescence labeled Nanopieces delivery into a cartilage cell; the figures demonstrated NP delivery into joint and brain, and how we measure pain as a treatment outcome.


3) Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine for tissue modeling and injury repair

     Another type of “4D” architectures we created is called “Nano-Matrix“. It is fabricated from Janus bases and extracellular matrix proteins. The Nano-Matrix create a bioactive microenvironment to mediate stem cell differentiation and promote target tissue regeneration.  Importantly, it is an injectable scaffold which can self-assemble and localize at the injury site, suitable for “difficult-to-reach” tissue injuries such as growth plate fracture and brain damage.

     Furthermore, relying on these highly versatile Nano-Matrices, we are able to build engineered tissue constructs and tissue chips mimicking authentic tissue functions.

     As below, the video demonstrated the self-assembly of Nano-Matrix in a biomimetic process without any chemical initiator or UV light; the figures showed our engineered cartilage construct in vitro, and how we inject Nano-Matrix for growth plate regeneration in vivo.