Nano-Bio Interactions: A Soft Matter View

A. Alexander-Katz

Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA


Nanomaterials are an emergent platform for multiple applications. Of particular interest are their potential for therapeutics and biological applications. In this seminar I will talk about nano-bio interactions. In particular, I will discuss a new class of nanoparticles that are able to navigate complex biological environments by adapting on-the-fly to different chemical conditions, reminiscent of the behavior of intrinsically disordered proteins. These nanoparticles are  amphiphilic by design due to a mixture of hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups on the ligand shell. This property enables the particles to fuse with cell membranes, and cross undetected into internal parts of the cell by transferring to internal membrane structures or protein constructs. They are also able to carry hydrophobic drugs and deliver them to remote regions in the body. The complete pathway of insertion and navigation for these nanoparticles into cells has been recently uncovered and will be presented. The path is reminiscent of the fusion pathway for lipid membranes , and offers much promise not only for applications but for better understanding how nano materials can behave as intrinsic biological entities, and vice versa, what properties of biological systems we can understand with much simpler synthetic nano materials.


Summary of academic career