IAI Colloquia Series: Didier Depireux, "Targeting Nano Therapies to the Ear, Tooth, Brain"
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
1146 AV Williams Bldg
Intelligent Automation, Inc. Colloquia Series
Nano Frontiers in Biomedical Engineering: Targeting Therapies to the Ear, Tooth and Brain
Associate Research Scientist
Institute for Systems Research
New active delivery systems based on nanotechnologies show great promise as a means for direct and safe delivery of medications used to treat numerous diseases. The current approach to pharmacotherapy typically involves systemic administration of medications at doses high enough to be efficacious at target sites where drug access is limited. This leads to adverse side-effects in tissues where no drug is needed. We have shown that nanoparticles may serve as a means for precise, extended delivery of anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, or regenerative compounds into target tissues that are notoriously difficult to target. We have applied this technology to the ear to treat hearing loss and tinnitus, to infections and inflammation in teeth, and to target deep brain structures. We have shown that the nanoparticles are non-toxic, and allow us to reach therapeutic drug levels at discrete locations while avoiding systemic exposure.
However, challenges remain in transporting nanoparticles across diverse biological barriers and matrices, or into structures with a distinctive anatomy. Nanomaterials possess unique physico-chemical properties, including large surface area-to-volume ratio, and high reactivity that are all quite distinct from bulk materials of the same chemical composition. Engineered nanoparticles have the potential to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. For example, nanoparticles can facilitate targeted drug delivery to specific subsets of cells within organs, in amount that can be tailored to the patient. The use of nanoparticles with a magnetic core, coupled with externally applied magnetic fields, have the potential to direct and focus therapy to many hard to reach disease targets such as the inner ear, teeth, and the brain, as well as other potential targets.
Didier Depireux is Associate Research Scientist at the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his PhD in the field of String Theory with S.J.Gates, and completed post-doctoral work working on Conformal Field Theory. His interests shifted to Computational Neuroscience and he moved to the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland at College Park, where he studied the neuroscience of hearing with S.Shamma. He then joined the faculty of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the U of Maryland School of Medicine. He has recently returned to the Institute for Systems Research, with adjunct appointments in Bioengineering and in Otorhinolaryngology. His principal interest is the understanding of the auditory pathway in health and in disease, particularly in the presence of tinnitus, with an eye or an ear to alleviating these debilitating conditions.