Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Team of Researchers Devel­oping Nanochip for Real Time Dis­ease Treatment

Con­tact: Laura Shea at 617–373-5427

(1–29-07) BOSTON, Mass. — A team of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity researchers has received a $1.2 mil­lion grant from the W. M. Keck Foun­da­tion to develop an inno­v­a­tive mul­ti­func­tional nanochip with the long-​​term goal of it being used as a pow­erful nanobiosensor and drug delivery system, able to iden­tify anti­gens in body fluid or tissue and release spe­cific drugs and dosages in real-​​time, based on what is detected. The two year grant will sup­port devel­op­ment of the nanochip’s major design fea­tures and fea­si­bility testing of the new design for bio­marker mon­i­toring and con­trolled drug release, both in vitro (in a lab­o­ra­tory set­ting) and in vivo (within a living organism) to deter­mine detec­tion limits, bio-​​fouling pro­tec­tion and effectiveness.

The researchers spear­heading this unique inter­dis­ci­pli­nary project come from three dif­ferent schools within the Uni­ver­sity and bring very dif­ferent areas of exper­tise to the project. Project leader Ahmed Bus­naina, W.L. Smith pro­fessor of Engi­neering and Director of the NSF Nanoscale Sci­ence and Engi­neering Center for High-​​Rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing is joined by Barry Karger, James L. Waters Chair in Ana­lyt­ical Chem­istry and Director of The Bar­nett Insti­tute of Chem­ical and Bio­log­ical Analysis, and Vladimir Torchilin, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor and Chair of the Depart­ment of Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences and Director of the Center for Phar­ma­ceu­tical Biotech­nology and Nanomedicine.

Although this is a new grant, what you have here is the inter­sec­tion of sev­eral very mature ideas,” said Torchilin. “Each of the researchers involved has been working for many years to develop his piece of the solu­tion – from the chips them­selves, to the process of using them for bio­an­a­lyt­ical pur­poses, to the options for con­trolled drug delivery. The Keck Foun­da­tion is known for funding some of the most inno­v­a­tive research being done today, and this project is no exception.”

The inter­dis­ci­pli­nary nature of our approach is unprece­dented,” said Karger. “We have exper­tise in nan­otech­nology, bio­chem­istry and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals con­verging to create some­thing incred­ibly unique that could someday have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the way we detect and treat a variety of serious illnesses.”

This research was inspired by recent advances in the selec­tive directed assembly of nanopar­ti­cles at the NSF High-​​rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing Center,” said Bus­naina. “The team’s inter­dis­ci­pli­nary exper­tise in nan­otech­nology, bio­chem­istry and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals made the devel­op­ment of a nanobio chip based on this advance pos­sible. We believe that at the end of two years, the basic foun­da­tion will have been laid for rapid expan­sion into prac­tical devices with broad and sig­nif­i­cant applications.”

The W.M. Keck Foun­da­tion sup­ports pio­neering dis­cov­eries in sci­ence, engi­neering and med­ical research that lay the ground­work for break­through dis­cov­eries and new tech­nolo­gies that pro­vide far-​​reaching ben­e­fits for humanity by investing in people and pro­grams that make a dif­fer­ence in the quality of life, now and in the future.

About Nan­otech­nology at North­eastern: North­eastern is home to one of only four NSF-​​funded Nanoman­u­fac­turing Nanoscale Sci­ence and Engi­neering research cen­ters in the country and has received more than $33 mil­lion in external funding for nan­otech­nology research. More than 40 North­eastern fac­ulty mem­bers in physics, chem­istry, engi­neering, biology, phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­ences, com­puter sci­ence, and the social sci­ences are con­ducting nan­otech­nology research.

About North­eastern: Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.