The translational research program of the Nguyen lab focuses on developing genetically encoded and genetically engineered biotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer, myocardial infarction, colitis, and other diseases. Our work combines the versatility of molecular engineering and pharmaceutical sciences with the power of bioinformatics to develop next-generation therapeutics that are safe and effective.
RNA zip-code like sequences for reprogramming pathogenic exosomes
Although great advances have been made in the field of nucleic acids and drug delivery, the specificity of delivery still remains a problem. We are utilizing cutting-edge technologies to identify zip-code like sequences for more efficient delivery of nucleic acids for the treatment of myocardial infarction and cancer.
Regeneration of cardiac tissue
Coronary heart diseases are among the leading causes of death worldwide. After myocardial infarction, a significant number of cardiomyocytes undergo apoptosis and are replaced by non-contractile scar tissue. Our goal is to repair damaged cardiac tissue by re-establishing the muscle population with newly generated cardiomyocytes. In order to achieve this aim, we are designing novel biomaterials for reprogramming different types of cells to cardiomyocytes.
Genetically encoded materials – protein-based materials to target tumor-associated macrophages
Nanoparticulate drug carriers allow the delivery of enzymatically susceptible, highly unstable, and insoluble drugs to target tissues. One of the limitations of existing drug delivery systems is insufficient and non-specific drug release in the body that leads to toxic side effects for the patient. Our lab engineers genetically encoded nanomaterials/protein-based materials that are able to disassemble and release therapeutic drugs when exposed to disease-specific microenvironments. Tumor-associated macrophages are one of many targets we are interested in.
Genetically engineered microbes for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases
Inflammatory bowel disease , which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic, relapsing-remitting conditions that affect more than 1.6 million adults and 80,000 children in the US alone. Patients suffer from severe abdominal pain with diarrhea caused by chronic inflammation and ulcer formation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Current therapies provide only symptomatic relief, with 25% of IBD patients requiring hospitalization and 45% relapsing. Many of the drugs administered cause severe side-effects, and many patients eventually require surgery due to intractable disease or the development of chronic sequelae. We are developing locally acting yeast therapeutics that are capable of reducing the inflammatory response and modulating the gut microbiome towards a protective composition to provide a more effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.