Precision Nano-scale Engineering of Stimuli-Responsive Nanoparticles at IIT Bombay

Prof. Rinti Banerjee and members of her group in the nanomedicine laboratory at the Dept of Biosciences & Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, are developing smart, trigger-responsive biodegradable nanoparticles and nanomaterials for drug delivery and tissue engineering.

Rajeet Chandan, a PhD student of Prof Rinti Banerjee, working on the qNano for characterization of stimuli responsive nanoparticles for drug delivery.

One of the specific areas of focus is the design of stimuli-responsive nanoparticles that are used to specifically deliver drugs to certain disease sites. Examples include nanoparticles that respond to changes in pH and enzyme levels associated with cancers; or which respond to focused external triggers like ultrasound pulses & hyperthermia in order to increase the specificity and effectiveness of anticancer drugs. These stimuli responsive nanoparticles are controlled by remote switches that allow on-demand release of drugs at specific sites. This significantly lowers the effective dose of drug required, reducing toxicity, and improving efficacy. Ultrasound responsive nanoparticles provide the additional advantage of precise image-guided therapy.

An additional aspect that the group is exploring is optimization of size and surface chemistry of nanoparticles for non-invasive, needle-free delivery. Biomimetic nanoparticles, which resemble lung surfactant, have been developed for aerosol administration in various respiratory diseases, such as tuberculosis and lung cancer. Another technology developed by the group is the use of core-shell nanoparticles for oral, sequential delivery of two or more anticancer drugs for drug resistant breast cancer, with decreased toxicity. Flexible, lipid nanovesicles which fluidise the outermost stratum corneum barrier of the skin have also been developed, and are promising agents for transdermal delivery of nutrients and drugs. This technology has implications for nutrient delivery in pregnant women in a user-friendly manner.

For all of these drug delivery projects, the precise determination of nanoparticle size, charge & concentration is of prime importance as it governs the dynamics, distribution, circulation time and clearance of nanoparticles in the body. Furthermore, the responsiveness of these particles to their corresponding trigger, and their stability, can be studied by measuring the time-dependent changes in their physical properties. Prof. Banerjee’s group uses Izon’s qNano to provide detailed information about the size, charge, and concentration of nanoparticles, and to evaluate the interactions of particles under different stimuli. They have found that the qNano provides more accurate information regarding individual particle sizes and their distributions in comparison to dynamic light scattering, and closely matches electron microscopy findings.

“The ultimate aim of the research group is to translate the success of some of these patented drug delivery nanocarriers from the lab to the clinic. The precise characterization of these nanoparticles is essential for progressing towards this goal, and the qNano is playing an important role in this regard.” says Dr. Banerjee.