We are interested in developing new strategies to combat cancer, particularly cancer metastases and drug resistance. The motivation stems from the recognition that metastatic cancer represents a devastating eventuality affecting cancer patients with high relapse and mortality rates for which there are currently no effective therapies. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the mainstays of cancer treatment. We adopt the best elements of these modalities into building a treatment design that has the systemic reach of chemotherapy and the spatiotemporal control of radiotherapy and surgery. We accomplish this by selecting light-sensitive chemotherapeutics and activating them with photoelectronic energy from radiopharmaceuticals to impart precision in cell killing akin to molecular surgery (Nature Nanotech, 2015; Nature Commun, 2018).
We are also interested in developing new strategies to precisely image infectious agents in the body in real-time using clinical imaging modalities. The motivation stems from the recognition that there are no contrast agents in clinical use that can identify the different pathogens accurately, swiftly and in real-time. We are designing probes that would have high selectivity for the pathogen and avoid uptake by mammalian cells to provide superior contrast during imaging. We employ the entire process workflow, including cell based assays and animal models, to evaluate the probes for clinical applications as well as investigational tools to better understand host-pathogen and pathogen-pathogen interactions.