Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine (CT³N)

CT3N in the News

  • Penn Medicines Garret FitzGerald MD FRS Elected to the German National Academy of Sciences

    Thursday, June 7, 2018

    Garret FitzGerald, MD, FRS, a professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and an international leader in cardiovascular disease research, has been elected to the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences, the oldest continuously existing academy of medicine and the natural sciences in the world. The award recognizes FitzGerald’s “scientific achievements and … personal standing.” He has been selected for membership in the Academy’s section on physiology and pharmacology/toxicology.

  • Penn-led Trial Shows AZEDRA Can Be Effective, Safe for Treatment of Rare Neuroendocrine Tumors [PI: Daniel A. Pryma]

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    A radiotherapy drug that treats the rare neuroendocrine cancers pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma can be both effective and safe for patients, according to the findings of a multi-center trial led by researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The study showed AZEDRA led to a significant reduction in the cardiovascular side effects that are associated with these cancers while also stopping tumor growth. The study’s principal investigator Daniel A. Pryma, MD, Chief of Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, will present the results at the ASCO 2018 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

  • Penn Medicine Researcher, James Eberwine, Joins International Collaboration to Better Understand How Cells Regulate Energy Production

    Friday, May 4, 2018

    James Eberwine, PhD, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is part of an international team of researchers, who will receive $1.25M over the next three years to better understand oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos), a biological system that plays a key role in the production of energy, generation of free radicals, and cell death.

  • Calculus III for cells [Kathleen Stebe quoted]

    Monday, April 23, 2018

    Last year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania revealed surprising insights into how cells respond to surface curvature. "We think of it as the cells doing calculus; the cells sense and respond to the underlying curvature,” says Kathleen Stebe of Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. Now, the researchers, led by Stebe and recent engineering graduate Nathan Bade in collaboration with Randall Kamien of the School of Arts and Sciences and Richard Assoian of the Perelman School of Medicine, have published a follow up study that Stebe likens to “calc III” for cells, investigating how cells respond to more complex geometries. The research, which could enable new tools in biology and affect how physicians treat things like vascular disease, has been published in the Biophysical Journal.

  • Penn Cancer Researchers Receive $2.7 Million from V Foundation to Better Understand PARP Inhibitors and Treat BRCA Cancers [Roger A. Greenberg]

    Thursday, March 29, 2018

    Cancer researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Basser Center for BRCA in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, have received two major grants from the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Funded projects will work to better understand and treat cancers in patients with inherited mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which produce tumor-suppressor proteins. These mutations significantly increase the risk for breast and ovarian cancer as well as other types of cancer in women and men. The first grant, a three-year, $2.1 M Team Science Convergence Award, will be led by Roger A. Greenberg, MD, PHD, a professor of Cancer Biology, and Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, a professor of Medicine and Genetics.

  • A fake organ mimics what happens in the blink of an eye [Dan Huh]

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    For the first time, researchers used human cells to build a model of the surface of the eye that’s equipped with a fake eyelid that mimics blinking. This synthetic eye could be used to study and test treatments for eye diseases, researchers reported February 16 in a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This artificial eye is made of corneal cells (dark blue) surrounded by a ring of conjunctival cells (white), grown on a contact lens‒like surface. The device “blinks” when a hydrogel film slides over a channel containing artificial tears (black) and spreads the liquid over the cells. Dan Huh, a bioengineer at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues grew a ring of conjunctival cells — tissue that covers the white part of the eye — around a circle of corneal cells on a contact lens‒shaped platform. A faux eyelid made of a thin hydrogel film covers and uncovers the eye to spread tear fluid over the cells.

  • Jason Burdick Receives Heilmeier Research Award

    Jason Burdick, Professor in Bioengineering, has been named the recipient of the 2017-18 George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research for "pioneering contributions to designing and developing polymers for applications in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine." The Heilmeier Award honors a Penn Engineering faculty member whose work is scientifically meritorious and has high technological impact and visibility. It is named for George H. Heilmeier, a Penn Engineering alumnus and overseer whose technological contributions include the development of liquid crystal displays and whose honors include the National Medal of Science and Kyoto Prize. Burdick's research interests include developing degradable polymeric biomaterials that can be used for tissue engineering, drug delivery, and fundamental polymer studies.

  • Penn Researchers Develop an Injectable Gel that Helps Heart Muscle Regenerate after a Heart Attack [Jason Burdick]

    Wednesday, November 29, 2017

    In mammals, including humans, the cells that contract the heart muscle and enable it to beat do not regenerate after injury. After a heart attack, there is a dramatic loss of these heart muscle cells and those that survive cannot effectively replicate. With fewer of these contractile cells, known as cardiomyocytes, the heart pumps less blood with each beat, leading to the increased mortality associated with heart disease. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Perelman School of Medicine have used mouse models to demonstrate a new approach to restart replication in existing cardiomyocytes: an injectable gel that slowly releases short gene sequences known as microRNAs into the heart muscle. The study was led by Edward Morrisey, Professor in Medicine, member of the Cell and Molecular Biology graduate group and Scientific Director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Penn Medicine; Jason Burdick, Professor in Bioengineering in Penn Engineering; Leo Wang, a graduate student in Burdick’s lab; and Ying Liu, a postdoctoral researcher in Morrisey’s lab. It was published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

  • First Microscopic Video of Blood Clot Contraction Reveals How Platelets Naturally Form Unobtrusive Clots [Team led by John W. Weisel]

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017

    The first view of the physical mechanism of how a blood clot contracts at the level of individual platelets is giving researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania a new look at a natural process that is part of blood clotting. A team led by John W. Weisel, PhD, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, describes in Nature Communications how specialized proteins in platelets cause clots to shrink in size. To learn how a clot contracts, the Penn team imaged clots (networks of fibrin fibers and blood platelets) using an imaging technique called confocal light microscopy. The natural process of clot contraction is necessary for the body to effectively stem bleeding, reduce the size of otherwise obstructive clots, and promote wound healing. The physical mechanism of platelet-driven clot contraction they observed is already informing new ways to think about diagnosing and treating conditions such as ischemic stroke, deep vein thrombosis, and heart attacks. In all of these conditions, clots are located where they should not be and block blood flow to critical parts of the body. Evidence from a study published earlier this year from the Weisel lab suggests that platelets in people with these diseases are less effective at clot contraction, thereby contributing to clots being more obstructive. “Under normal circumstances, blood clot contraction plays an important role in preventing bleeding by making a better seal, since the cells become tightly packed as the spaces between them are eliminated,” Weisel said. “In this study, we unwrapped and quantified clot contraction in single platelets.” The team quantified the structural details of how contracting platelets cause clots to shrink, accompanied by dramatic structural alterations of the platelet-fibrin meshwork.

  • Penn Researchers Working to Mimic Giant Clams to Enhance the Production of Biofuel [Shu Yang]

    Thursday, November 2, 2017

    Alison Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania has been studying giant clams since she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. These large mollusks, which anchor themselves to coral reefs in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, can grow to up to three-feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds. But their size isn’t the only thing that makes them unique. Anyone who has ever gone snorkeling in Australia or the western tropical Pacific Ocean, Sweeney says, may have noticed that the surfaces of giant clams are iridescent, appearing to sparkle before the naked eye. The lustrous cells on the surface of the clam scatter bright sunlight, which typically runs the risk of causing fatal damage to the cell, but the clams efficiently convert the sunlight into fuel. Using what they learn from these giant clams, the researchers hope to improve the process of producing biofuel. Sweeney, an assistant professor of physics in the Penn School of Arts and Sciences, and her collaborator Shu Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, refer to the clams as “solar transformers” because they are capable of absorbing bright sunlight at a very high rate and scattering it over a large surface area. When the light is distributed evenly among the thick layer of algae living inside the clam, the algae quickly converts the light into energy. After coming across Sweeney’s work, Yang struck up a collaboration to see if they could mimic the system by abstracting the principles of the clam’s process to create a material that works similarly. She and Ph.D. student Hye-Na Kim devised a method of synthesizing nanoparticles and adding them to an emulsion — a mixture of water, oil, and soapy molecules called surfactants — to form microbeads mimicking the iridocytes, the cells in giant clams responsible for solar transforming. Their paper has been published in Advanced Materials.

  • Penn Engineers Develop Filters That Use Nanoparticles to Prevent Slime Build-up [Study was led by Daeyeon Lee]

    Wednesday, November 1, 2017

    Filtration membranes are, at their core, sponge-like materials that have micro- or nanoscopically small pores. Unwanted chemicals, bacteria and even viruses are physically blocked by the maze of mesh, but liquids like water can make it through. The current standard for making these filters is relatively straightforward, but doesn’t allow for much in the way of giving them additional functionality. This is a particular need when it comes to “biofouling.” The biological material they are supposed to filter out — including bacteria and viruses— gets stuck on the surface of the mesh, blocking the pores with a slimy residue. Beyond reducing the flow, such biofilms can potentially contaminate whatever liquid makes it through to the other side of the filter. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science have a new way of making membranes that could address this problem. Their method allows them to add in a host of new abilities via functional nanoparticles that adhere to the surface of the mesh. They have demonstrated this new process with membranes that block bacteria- and virus-sized contaminants without letting them stick, a property that would vastly increase the efficiency and lifespan of the filter. The “antifouling” membranes they have tested would be immediately useful in relatively simple applications, like filtering drinking water, and could eventually be used on the oily compounds found in fracking wastewater and other heavy-duty pollutants. The researchers’ method, described in a paper recently published in the journal Nature Communications, allows for membranes made from a wide range of polymers and nanoparticles. Beyond antifouling abilities, future nanoparticles could catalyze reactions with the contaminants, destroying them or even converting them into something useful. The study was led by Daeyeon Lee, a professor in Penn Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Kathleen Stebe, Penn Engineering’s Deputy Dean for Research and Richer & Elizabeth Goodwin Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, along with Martin F. Haase, an assistant professor at Rowan University who developed the technology as a postdoctoral researcher in the labs of Stebe and Lee. Harim Jeon, Noah Hough, and Jong Hak Kim also contributed to the study.

  • Robert Carpick Named 2017 MRS Fellow

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    Robert Carpick, John Henry Towne Professor and Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has been named a Fellow of the Materials Research Society (MRS) Fellow. The fellowship honors those MRS members who are notable for their distinguished research accomplishments and their outstanding contributions to the advancement of materials research, worldwide. Dr. Carpick was recognized by the MRS "for fundamental insights into the nanometer scale mechanics of materials and atomic scale origins of friction, lubrication, and wear." The distinction is highly selective with the maximum number of new Fellow appointments each year being limited to 0.2% of the current MRS regular membership.

  • Organs on Chips [Dan Huh]

    Monday, August 28, 2017

    Scientists hope that these devices will one day replace animal models of disease and help advance personalized medicine. Dan Huh, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania who was a postdoc in Ingber’s lab, and colleagues have created an eye-on-a-chip—with an eyelid that blinks. This chip, which is roughly the size and shape of a contact lens, approximates the ocular surface of the eye. It contains human cells from the cornea and conjunctiva (the mucosal layer that covers the eye). The team also engineered an eyelid, which attaches to the surface and allows the eye to blink, keeping the surface of the chip lubricated.

  • How DNA Damage Turns Immune Cells Against Cancer [Roger Greenberg]

    Monday, July 31, 2017

    Findings Suggest Modifying the Cell Replication Cycle Could Make Combo Therapies More Successful

  • Cancer survivor becomes a cancer fighter at a Philly start-up [Andrew Tsourkas and David Cormode]

    Friday, July 28, 2017

    What Debra Travers really wanted to be was a marine biologist, until “I found out Jacques Cousteau wasn’t hiring.” How she wound up as chief executive of PolyAurum LLC, a Philadelphia start-up developing biodegradable gold nanoparticles for treating cancerous tumors, involved a professional journey of more than 30 years in pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries, and a personal battle with the disease she’s now in business to defeat.Penn’s David Cormode, a professor of radiology, and Andrew Tsourkas, a professor of bioengineering, have worked to make gold more biocompatible, resulting in PolyAurum’s current technology, Dorsey said. The gold nanocrystals are contained in a biodegradable polymer that allows enough metal to collect in a tumor. The polymer then breaks down, releasing the gold for excretion from the body so that it does not build up in key organs.

  • Penn Researchers Engineer Macrophages to Engulf Cancer Cells in Solid Tumors [Led by Dennis Discher]

    Thursday, July 6, 2017

    The research was led by Dennis E. Discher, the Robert D. Bent Professor in Penn Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering, and Cory Alvey, a graduate student in his lab from the Department of Pharmacology in Penn Medicine.

  • Penn Engineers Show Key Feature for Modeling How Cells Spread in Fibrous Environments

    Friday, May 26, 2017

    The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Vivek Shenoy, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and co-director of Penn’s Center for Engineering Mechanobiology, along with Xuan Cao and Ehsan Ban, members of his lab. They collaborated with Jason Burdick, professor in the Department of Bioengineering

  • Garret FitzGerald Receives American Heart Association Merit Award to Enhance Blood Pressure Control

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    Merit Awards Support “Visionary Leaders”

  • Penn Neuroscientist Receives Scientific Innovations Award from the Brain Research Foundation

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    PHILADELPHIA— James Eberwine, PhD, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has received the 2017 Scientific Innovations Award from the Chicago-based Brain Research Foundation, which supports research for preventing and treating neurological diseases.

  • Turning Patients' Cells into Therapeutic Antibody Factories - Podcast

    Thursday, March 2, 2017

    Turning Patients' Cells into Therapeutic Antibody Factories - Sounds of Science Podcast

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Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine

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