FFATA: Transport of Nanomedicine in the Environment Grant uri icon


  • Recent studies have estimated that more than 200 nanotechnology-based drugs and delivery systems have entered pre-clinical, clinical, or commercial development and over 40 nanomedicine products have been on the market, with nanomedicine sales estimated to have reached 20 billion dollars in 2011. With the increasing consumption and production of nanomedicine, the occurrence and fate of nanomedicine in the environment as well as the potential consequences for human health have been increasingly recognized. Currently, polymeric nanoparticulate drug delivery system (PNDDS) filled with therapeutic agents represents the one of the most commonly used forms of nanomedicine due to their ability to solubilize water-insoluble molecules as well as their higher payload capacity, extended blood circulation times, and excellent structural stability in aqueous media. While these properties of PNDDS are beneficial in terms of pharmaceutical science, it can be detrimental from that of environmental science, as it facilitates the transport of potential ecological hazards. The main objective of the proposed work is thus obtaining a better understanding of the transport phenomena of PNDDS in the environment. Intellectual Merit: The proposed activity primarily seeks to determine the relative importance of the diffusion, convection, adsorption, release, and degradation processes taking place during the transport of nanomedicine in the environment. Another fundamental issue in this work is determining how these processes depend not only upon the structural and physicochemical properties of the nanomedicine and the environmental surfaces involved but also upon environmental conditions such as pH and temperature. The working hypothesis is that the transport of nanomedicine in the environment is modulated by a synergistic combination of nanomedicine properties such as size and chemical functionalization as well as environmental conditions such as flow rates, temperature, roughness, and the chemistry of environmental surfaces. The hypothesis will be tested through quartz crystal microbalance studies using model environmental surfaces such as silica, calcite, and cellulose, as well as various types of nanomedicine with different sizes, charges, compositions, loading properties, and functionalities. The generated data will be described with environmental transport models. The PI''s unique combination of expertise in surface and interface science, nanotechnology, and the drug delivery area has enabled him to generate promising preliminary results in the support of the project''s working hypothesis and will allow him to successfully manage this work. Overall, the proposed activity is significant from an engineering science perspective, as it will advance knowledge and understanding of nanoparticle transport near adsorptive surfaces in aqueous environments. Such knowledge is critical to properly assess the distribution and fate of nanomedicine and to develop successful strategies for minimizing its dispersal in the environment. The outcomes of this project are also anticipated to benefit other fields and applications relying on controlling the adsorption of nanoparticles and bioparticles such as filtration, xerography, protein and cell separation, as well as food emulsion and foam stabilization. Broader Impact: The proposed work has three components for integrating research and education. The first component strives to increase the participation of underrepresented students in academic research, the second concerns curriculum development, and the third involves training graduate students who are capable of functioning successfully as independent investigators in academic or industrial research positions. The PI is actively involved in mentoring underrepresented undergraduate students in a project that is directly related to the proposed work. Through this project, we aim to recruit and train more minority and underrepresented graduate and undergraduate students and to teach the general public about the environmental aspects of nanotechnology. This project will also provide graduate students with multidisciplinary training in environmental science, chemical engineering, and nanotechnology. The work will be broadly disseminated through presentations by the PI and students at informal public science talks, conferences, and departmental seminars.

date/time interval

  • 2012 - 2017