It’s been a while since I updated this, mostly due to the fact that I didn’t think about anything worth updating – but now that I have a group, along with a slightly-edited idea (more on that below), I’m expecting to have a lot more stuff to write about in the coming weeks! Also, the video’s coming up – and that’s going to be an entirely separate beast to tackle…
So, as I might have mentioned earlier, my original plan was to use siRNA-infused nanoparticles to create a novel cancer treatment that would have clear translational possibilities into clinical trials. However, after talking with Professor Kaplan in a meeting, he told us to dream bigger – look into something you might not be able to directly take into research, but has much, much bigger impacts.
So, he suggested an idea (and I came up with another one), and our updated PDR has a slightly bigger vision – a baseline NP therapy to prevent cancer before it happens. Think about iodine salt – iodine deficiency was one of the leading causes of intellectual and developmental disorders before the widespread introduction of salt fortified with micrograms of iodine. In a similar vein, Professor Kaplan and our group are starting to look into edible NPs, which would carry siRNAs not targeted at one specific cancer, but rather a wide variety of oncogenes in an effort to silence mutated cells that may evade immune detection before they get out of control. We would have to look into how to synthesize NPs that can both survive the digestive tract without destruction, while also capable of absorption through the intestine or stomach wall. We currently have a meeting with Dr. Qiaobing Xu, who is an expert in this field, which can hopefully point us in a direction for this!
The idea I had – which is lower priority, but still an interesting expansion that we can look into should we have time/space in our video – surrounded an “adaptive” NP. Something like a synthetic immune cell, that could target cancer or viruses with siRNA or more targeted therapies and is capable of “switching” its target and drug delivery to match a different cancer or threat. Such a technology would be incredibly difficult to make, as development of that sort on the nano-scale would likely have to be entirely chemical in nature, while simultaneously avoiding denaturing of siRNA or other drugs within the NP. Further research pending on both these topics.