Body Builders

The latest issue of Johns Hopkins University Engineering magazine features the article “Body Builders“ by Sara Achenbach. The article mentions the work of several Johns Hopkins University and Institute for NanoBioTechnology affiliated faculty members. Work highlighted includes that of Andreas Andreou (Electrical and Computer Engineering); Marc Ostermeier (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering); Michael Yu (Materials Science and Engineering); Jennifer Elisseeff (Biomedical Engineering Institute); and Nitish Thakor (Biomedical Engineering).

Artificial Intelligence: Andreou’s team has developed a silicon cortex using nanoscale 3-D silicon on insulator complementary metal oxide semiconductor technology. By stacking super thin microchips in this nano-sized cortex, his groups has simulated more closely than before the natural circuitry of the brain.

Protein Switches: Ostermeier’s group is looking at the ways protein switches work to respond to complex signals. His work is funded by grants from National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and an INBT grant.

Tissue Scaffolds: Funded in part by a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Yu is creating biomedical applications for modified collagen to prevent the formation of scar tissue and to prevent organ transplant rejection.

Hydrogel Scaffolds: Elisseeff uses hydrogel scaffolds to develop artificial adhesives for the eye to repair corneal damage and help close incisions following cataract surgery. Another Elisseef led team is investigating methods of creating artificial cartilage.

Robotic Hands: Thakor and colleagues are testing some brain-controlled robotic prosthetic hands with very human-like qualities. This work is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency through the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

To read the entire article from Johns Hopkins Engineering, visit: http://wse.jhu.edu/include/content/pdf/engmag-summer07/bodybuilders.pdf.

Coated Nanoparticles Slip Past Body’s Mucus Barrier

Though no one diagnosed with cystic fibrosis has ever been cured, new research by Justin Hanes and his colleagues offers a potential solution to one of the biggest obstacles impeding treatment of this devastating and chronic illness—getting past the mucus barrier.

“The gene that could cure cystic fibrosis has been known since 1989. However, the disease hasn’t been cured because no one knows how to deliver the curative gene to cells lining the airways of the lungs,“ says Hanes, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and an executive committee member of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology. “A major change in the next decade will be an increased focus on delivery technologies.“

Mucus, that sticky and highly viscous substance that lines the lungs, eyes, the gastrointestinal tract, and female reproductive tract is proficient at blocking particles from penetrating the body. This is a good thing when those particles are bacteria or viruses but bad when they are vehicles for life-saving therapies.

Hanes and fellow researchers are finding ways to get drug-delivering particles past those sticky mucus linings. Most importantly, they’re discovering how to get higher density nanoparticles through mucus at a faster pace, thereby beating the body’s speedy attempts to flush its contaminated mucus away.

In a paper published in the January 2007 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hanes’ team reported that a coating of polyethylene glycol (PEG) keeps particles from sticking to mucus. PEG had previously been reported as highly adhesive to mucus, but the team showed that PEG molecules with low enough molecular weight (i.e., smaller versions of the molecule) were not.

In one of the most surprising and important findings, the researchers, including first author Samuel K. Lai (PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), demonstrated that particles coated with PEG moved through human mucus almost as fast as they move through water; particles without the coating had previously been shown to be completely immobile in human mucus.

The team also reported that openings in the mucus mesh lining are much larger than previously thought. This, in turn, means that much larger particles than once believed possible have the potential to pass through the protective mucus barrier, Hanes says. Larger particles are desired for commercial products since they are easier to efficiently load with drugs and are capable of sustaining the release of drug molecules for longer periods of time.

“These findings set the stage for a new generation of nanomedicines that can be delivered directly to affected areas to treat a host of important diseases, such as lung, colon, and cervical cancer, asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, and more,“ says Hanes.

The preceding article was adapted from “Bypassing the mucus barrier: a “Slick“ Answer“ by Angela Roberts in Johns Hopkins Engineering: The Magazine of the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, Summer 2007.

To read the full text of this article: Lai, S.K., O’Hanlon, D.E., Harrold, S., Man, S.T., Wang Y., Cone, R., Hanes, J. (Jan. 23, 2007). Rapid transport of large polymeric nanoparticles in fresh undiluted human mucus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, 1482-1487, please click here.

To read the abstract in PubMed, click here.

Read more: Coated Nanoparticles Solve Sticky Drug-Delivery Problem on Headlines at Hopkins

INBT Director Speaks at JHU Alumni Event

By Angela Roberts (published as Back to the Classroom at Alumni College*)

“Our goal,“ said Peter Searson, director of Johns Hopkins’ Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT), “is to establish Hopkins as the world leader in nanobiotechnology. Or, as I like to say, world domination.“ The 40 or so alumni gathered in Hodson Hall appreciated Searson’s humor, especially at the beginning of an intensive, hourlong lecture on the characteristics of the very tiny things the INBT faculty researches.

Searson, who helped launch the INBT in 2006, was one of two Whiting School professors who hosted Alumni College during the Johns Hopkins Homecoming and Reunion in April. He and civil engineering professor Tony Dalrymple, who spoke on “Natural Hazards: Lessons Learned from the Tsunami and the Hurricane,“ led independent sessions open to all alumni, during which they explained their research and the latest developments in their fields.

Mac McLeod ’57 and his wife, Lenore Danielson, who were visiting from their home in New Jersey, attended Searson’s morning lecture. “Professor Searson is one of the best lecturers I’ve heard,“ McLeod commented. “It’s a fascinating field and he’s a fascinating teacher. It makes you feel like you’d like to go back to school and be in his class. It leaves you with a lot to think about, and it’s amazing to learn that the cost of solving the problems they’re working on is so high.“ His wife interjected, “And to realize that the cost of not solving them is equally high.“

Searson’s presentation began with talk of size and scale. He explained that a “bucky ball“—a fundamental building component in the world of nanobiotechnology—is only a nanometer wide. By comparison, a single strand of a human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide. “We can make materials that are smaller than cells, which means that we can build things that can go into cells and deliver drugs,“ he noted. He went on to discuss how nanobiotechnology engineers and scientists are searching for new therapies, new diagnostic tools, and a better understanding of the relationship between cells and disease.

While alumni from ages 30 to 90 listened intently, Searson continued on to explain the logistics of shrinking things to the nano scale, such as the discovery that when something gets smaller, a higher percentage of its atoms are on the surface. The result? Everything from fibers for athletic clothing that “wick away“ liquid to drug delivery systems that target cancer cells.

Searson’s lecture ended with projections for what the future of nanobiotechnology holds in store for the world. “We will be able to take a ‘smart pill’ that will be programmed to report on its position and status in the body before releasing the correct dose of drugs,“ he predicted. Searson believes Johns Hopkins will be at the forefront of such discoveries, and he predicts we will see this technology hit the marketplace within decades.

*Originally published in Johns Hopkins Engineering: The Magazine of the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, Summer 2007.

INBT Education Program Coordinator to Attend HBCU-UP Research Conference

The Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology will host a booth at the National Research Conference of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC, Oct. 4-7.
[Read more...]

JHU’s Enterprise Chief, INBT Director Featured at RMI Event


Event announcement. Click here for bigger version.

Aris Melissaratos, special adviser to the president for enterprise development at Johns Hopkins University and former Maryland director of business and economic development, and Peter Searson, director of the JHU Institute for NanoBioTechnology, will be the featured guests at a gathering hosted by The Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland. The event will be held Aug. 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

For more information on “From Research to Practice: An Evening with Aris Melissaratos“ and to register online, visit www.marylandmanufacturing.info.

Johns Hopkins Cancer Biotech 2007 Conference

Martin Pomper, associate professor of Radiology at Johns Hopkins University and an executive comittee member of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, will be among the featured Johns Hopkins faculty presenters at the Cancer Biotech 2007 Conference: “Investing in Cancer Research: Crossing the Translational Divide,“ Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007 at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center Owens Auditorium.

Pomper will present the talk “PET Imaging and the Emergence of New Biomarkers: Implications for Capital Efficiency for Drug Development“ at an afternoon session.

Also during a morning panel session, “Discovery-based Forecasts: The Near Future in Cancer Research, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention,“ professor of Oncology at JHU and INBT affiliated faculty member Kenneth Kinzler will discuss genetic mapping.

For a full agenda and to register, visit www.hopkinsbiotech.org.

Johns Hopkins Vascular Medicine Research Initiative Announced

Date: Monday, Sept. 24, 8 a.m.
Location: The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center Owens Auditorium

The Institute for NanoBioTechnology supports efforts to encourage interdisciplinary research. The Johns Hopkins Vascular Medicine Research Initiative aims to bring a programmatic approach to vascular research at Johns Hopkins, facilitating interaction and growth within disciplines across all campuses, schools and departments, including research in nanobiotechnology.

The Johns Hopkins Vascular Medicine Research Initiative kicks off with an all-day conference, Monday, Sept. 24, at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center Owens Auditorium. Speakers begin at 8 a.m., and a buffet lunch will be provided.

The conference will include presentations and poster sessions on state-of-the-art vascular medicine research taking place at Johns Hopkins. New initiatives to facilitate interactions between investigators will be introduced and resources to support vascular research will be highlighted.

Download the full agenda here.

Submit Your Abstract
If you would like to have an abstract of your research published in the conference program, please submit all abstracts to Nick Flavahan at nflavah1@jhmi.edu by Monday, Aug. 27, at 5 p.m. Read the guidelines for abstract submission. Authors will be notified by Sept. 1 if their abstract is to be included in the program.

Request for Information
If you would like to receive further information about the Johns Hopkins Vascular Medicine Research Initiative and/or have your information posted on its forthcoming interactive Web site, please complete the information form. Submit to Nick Flavahan at nflavah1@jhmi.edu before or after the conference.

For more information about the initiative or the conference, please contact Nick Flavahan at nflavah1@jhmi.edu.

HHMI and NIBIB Officers Pay Positive Visit to Hopkins NBMed Program

In December 2005, Johns Hopkins University received a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to establish a graduate training program in nanotechnology for biology and medicine (NBMed). The goal of the NBMed program is to train graduate students with various undergraduate backgrounds at the multidisciplinary interface of nanotechnology, biology, and medicine and involves faculty from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Whiting School of Engineering, and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. [Read more...]

First Nano-Bio Symposium at Hopkins a Great Success

Johns Hopkins University held its first Nano-Bio Symposium on Friday, April 27, 2007. The event, organized by the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, took place at the Homewood Campus. “We had a great program and the symposium went extremely well“, says Peter Searson, Director of INBT. “Based on comments from those in attendance, I think it was a great success“.

Speaker Session

Piotr Grodzinski, Gang Boa, Michael Sheetz, David Mooney, Wendy Sanhai, Dennis Discher, and Gunter Oberdorster
Speakers: Piotr Grodzinski, Gang Boa, Michael Sheetz, David Mooney, Wendy Sanhai, Dennis Discher, and Gunter Oberdorster. Credit: Jay Van Rensselaer / JHU.

The speaker session, which took place in Remsen Hall, was attended by an estimated hundred and fifty students and faculty from Hopkins and local universities, as well as representatives from government, industry, and venture capital firms interested in nanobiotechnology.

The featured talks covered a wide range of topics in nanobiotechnology, from the use of nanotools to gain new insight in cell adhesion, to the development of new worm-like nanoparticles as drug delivery carriers, to the development of fluorescence-based molecular moieties to probe gelation processes in biomaterials for tissue engineering applications. Wendy Sanhai of FDA talked about the challenges that her organization is facing with the rapid growth of nano-based biotechnologies and Piotr Grodzinski of the National Cancer Institute discussed funding opportunities in nanobiotechnology at NCI.

A diverse group of speakers from academic and government institutions was brought together for the symposium. The group included Michael P. Sheetz, professor of biological sciences at Columbia University; David J. Mooney, professor of bioengineering at Harvard University; Gunter Oberdorster, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester; Dennis Discher, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Pennsylvania; Gang Bao, professor of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech; Wendy Sanhai, Senior Scientific Advisor at the Food and Drug Administration; and Piotr Grodzinski, Director of the Nanotechnology Alliance for Cancer at the National Cancer Institute.

Poster Session

INBT poster sessions
Poster session during the first Hopkins Nano-Bio Symposium. Credit INBT / JHU

During the afternoon a poster session was held in the Mattin Center where over one hundred poster presentations were on display offering a broad overview of current nano-bio research efforts at the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, the School of Public Health, and the School of Arts and Sciences at Hopkins. “I am very pleased that we had so many posters, it shows how eager researchers are to share their work and find out what others in the Hopkins community are doing“, says Denis Wirtz, Associate Director of INBT. The organizers also noted the overall high quality of the posters.

Four best posters were each awarded a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card. Michael Edidin, Professor of Biology in the Krieger School for Arts and Sciences and chairman of the judges, explained that the posters chosen had a scientific idea to test and used nanoscience or some other aspect of nanotechnology to address the problem. “We were also swayed by clarity of the poster and by the presentations made“, he said.

Presenters of 'best poster': Billy Smith, Manu Kanwar, Bridget Wildt and Yu Li
Presenters of ‘best poster’: Billy Smith, Manu Kanwar, Bridget Wildt and Yu Li. Credit INBT / JHU

The winning posters are:

- Profiling the Mammalian Cell Surface Glycome. Authors; Sheng-ce Tao, Yu Li, Jiang Qian, Ronald L. Schnaar, Irwin J. Goldstein, Heng Zhu, Jonathan P. Schneck.

- Focal Adhesion Disassembly Using Electrochemically Programmed Sub-Cellular Release. Authors; Bridget Wildt, Peter Searson, Denis Wirtz.

- Environmental Fate and Impact of Nanomaterials: Effect of Surface Oxidation on the Colloidal Stability and Sorption Properties of Carbon Nanotubes. Authors; D. H. Fairbrother, W.P. Ball, B. Smith, M. Shin, H.-H. Cho, F. K. Bangash, J. D. Wnuk.

-Circular permutation of TEM1 b-lactamase improves catalytic activity. Authors; M. Kanwar, G.Guntas, M.Ostermeier.

2008

Next year INBT plans to hold the symposium at the campus of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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For more photos visit the speaker session gallery and the
poster session gallery.

Johns Hopkins Nano-Bio Symposium Debuts Friday

The Institute for NanoBioTechnology, an ambitious research effort drawing on diverse researchers from four Johns Hopkins divisions, will host its first Nano-Bio Spring Symposium on Friday, April 27.

The event, which is open to the entire university community, will feature presentations by eight prominent speakers from outside institutions, plus a large poster session calling attention to current nanobiotechnology research taking place at Hopkins.

Read more on the website of the JHU Gazette