Cell Targeted Diagnostics Using Nanomaterials
August 21, 2013
Center for Nanosciences, Kochi
The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) published an Amrita article authored by Dr. Shantikumar Nair, Dean of Research, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in the May edition of its quarterly newsletter Connect.
The article described the genesis in 2010 and work of the IUSSTF-funded Indo-U.S. Joint Center on Cell Targeted Diagnostics and Therapy Using Nanomaterials.
In addition to Amrita, the partners for this Center on the Indian side included Cell Works Research India Pvt. Ltd. based in Bangalore. Stanford University (California), Rice University (Houston), University of Texas (Houston), University of Connecticut, Health Centre (Hartford) were the partnering institutions from the US.
“This was one of the early attempts to integrate the tremendous developments in Nanotechnology into Regenerative Medicine,” wrote Dr. Shanti Nair.
Explaining regenerative medicine as that discipline which hinges on an understanding of how tissues regenerate themselves, he highlighted the role of nanomaterials in this area.
“With the knowledge that tissues are very hierarchical, with both nano and micro components; the natural question was whether there was any potential to enhance regeneration using nanomaterials of controlled sizes and morphologies and also having the requisite chemistry that favored biological interactions.”
Describing a scaffold that could be placed in the body to help regenerate lost bone or nerve tissue or any other tissue as medicinal, Dr. Shanti went on list specific research initiatives of the Center at the partnering US universities, emphasizing that more work was needed in all areas.
For example, the initiatives at Rice University included research in developing spatially distributed scaffolds to perform multiple functions, creation of a nanoparticulate drug carrier contained within a gel-delivery system and investigation of a multiscale and multicomponent scaffold that better mimicked the hierarchical structure of an actual tissue.
Overall thirteen faculty members and six PhD students traveled among the participating institutions and universities. Their collaborative work resulted in seven high-impact journal publications. Three patents were also expected to be filed from the joint work in development of tissue engineered bone, cartilage and drug releasing nanogels for oral cancer.
But it wasn’t all work and no play for the participants.
“Especially for the students, the experience was a transforming one – for the American students, a cultural feast and a unique living experience in India; and for Indian students, the experience of a research culture in the US that is exceptionally focused and goal-oriented,” wrote Dr. Shanti Nair, summing up.