Joseph M. DeSimone

Research Interests

  • Polymer synthesis and characterization
  • Top-down fabrication strategies for applications in nanomedicine
  • Photovoltaics and new strategies for energy storage

Research Synopsis

The recent breakthroughs in the DeSimone laboratories using specifically-designed materials for imprint lithography have enabled an extremely versatile and flexible method for the direct fabrication and harvesting of monodisperse, shape-specific nano-biomaterials. The method, referred to as Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates, or PRINT, allows for the fabrication of monodisperse particles with simultaneous control over structure (i.e. shape, size, composition) and function (i.e. cargo, surface structure). Unlike other particle fabrication techniques, PRINT is delicate and general enough to be compatible with a variety of important next-generation cancer therapeutic, detection and imaging agents, including various cargos (e.g. DNA, proteins, chemotherapy drugs, biosensor dyes, radio-markers, contrast agents), targeting ligands (e.g. antibodies, cell targeting peptides) and functional matrix materials (e.g. bioabsorbable polymers, stimuli responsive matrices, etc). PRINT particles are presently being designed to reach new understandings and therapies in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Early detection via targeted delivery of the imaging agent goes hand in hand with these new directions. Cellular targeting can be accomplished by attaching cell-specific ligands to the surface of the PRINT particle. Potential cell-specific ligands include the integrin receptor peptide (GRGDSP), melanocyte stimulating hormone, vasoactive intestional peptide, anti-Her2 mouse antibodies, cell-penetrating peptides, and a variety of vitamins. Once targeted with a cell specific ligand, the PRINT particle can be delivered and imaged at the desired site. In this respect, PRINT particles promise great potential, since it is possible to utilize the ability to specifically target, be shape and size-specific, possess tunable matrixes, as well as the ability to incorporate imaging contrast agents. The PRINT technology from the DeSimone lab is playing an integral part in the NIH PPG as well as the newly awarded Carolina Cancer Center of Nanotechnology Excellence Grants.


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