Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering

The development of novel drug delivery systems has improved the efficacy and safety of many important therapeutic agents. Understanding the release characteristics of drugs from these dosage forms is essential for their optimal use.

In addition, knowledge of the physicochemical and biological factors that influence drug release is critical for product design. As delivery systems may be designed for either systemic or local delivery, researchers in drug delivery often function at the interface between the physical and biological sciences.

Our faculty are currently investigating the development of novel drugs delivery systems for both small and large molecules, including delivery of genetic material.

Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of engineering and the biological sciences to offer the possibility to create completely natural tissue and replace failing or malfunctioning organs.

It involves the transplantation of cells removed from the patient or a close relative and seeded into a polymer scaffold which serves as both an adhesive substrate and a physical support for the isolated cells. Research of the drug delivery and tissue engineering groups in the Division of Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutics focuses on the rational design and development of novel biodegradable polymer scaffolds with customized properties tailored to deliver growth factors, DNA plasmids, or genes in a time-dependent manner to induce specific tissue regeneration.

Another area of intense research activity by our faculty, in the field of tissue engineering, is the development and integration of minimally invasive strategies to deliver these scaffolds in vivo.

Research in Drug Delivery & Tissue Engineering

Dr. Maureen Donovan's research interests include novel drug delivery systems in mucosal drug delivery especially via the nasal, gastrointestinal and vaginal epithelia; and mechanisms of drug absorption and disposition.

Research efforts in Dr. Kevin Rice's lab focus on the design and testing of gene delivery systems designed to treat inherited and chronic diseases. The laboratory develops peptide and peptide conjugates used to bind and condense plasmid DNA encoding therapeutic genes. The efficiency of gene transfer is determined by transfecting mammalian cells in culture and by dosing animals with targeted gene delivery systems. The overall goal is to develop safe and efficient gene transfer techniques that will serve as therapeutic platforms for gene therapy in humans.

Dr. Alisager Salem's research program focuses on the rational design of novel drug and gene delivery systems. Current research is synergistically utilizing degradable particles prepared from existing or developing novel polymers with CpG oligonucleotides or heat shock proteins for immunocancer therapeutics. The group is also developing novel and superior oral dosage forms, injectable systems and developing sophisticated scaffolds for tissue-specific regeneration. Microfabrication techniques are applied to these materials to provide spatial control over tissue formation and to integrate minimally invasive scaffold delivery strategies.