University of Connecticut Studies Drug-Carrying Nanoparticles

Jennifer Markarian

Jennifer Markarian is manufacturing editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

A University of Connecticut chemical engineering professor received a National Science Foundation grant to study how nanoparticles flow in the bloodstream, which is crucial for their use in drug delivery.

Anson Ma, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Connecticut (UConn) has received a two-year National Science Foundation Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) award to test the use of nanoparticles for drug delivery and to understand how nanoparticles flow in the bloodstream.

Nanoparticles are being considered to improve the delivery of cancer-fighting drugs to tumors while reducing the toxic side effects to normal tissues. “But blood is a very complicated fluid, and we don’t precisely know how the particles travel,” said Ma in a recent University press release.  The research team will build novel microfluidic devices that simulate the bloodstream and study the flow dynamics of nanoparticles within these simulated blood flows. The research will also consider the roles of blood constituents and of particle shape and size in delivering drugs to the tumor site and will investigate how certain factors like particle shape and surface chemistry influence the hydrodynamics of the nanoparticles.

“This project will be the first step in understanding the problem from an engineering perspective,” said Ma in the release. Ma and his student project team are collaborating with professors Leslie Shor from the Chemical Engineering department, Xiuling Lu from Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Suzy Torti from the UConn Health Center.