Retinal Diseases

Retinal degenerative and antigenic diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are a major reason of vision disability in working and old aged populations respectively. DR is classified into non-proliferative DR (NPDR) and proliferative DR (PDR) based on new blood vessel formation, and AMD is also categorized into two groups, dry and wet forms. Dry AMD is characterized by geography atrophy, and wet AMD is characterized by angiogenesis. Current standard care of PDR and wet AMD is intravitreal injection of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents. However, over 40% of patients of both PDR and wet AMD do not fully response to the current anti-angiogenic therapies of VEGF antagonists, and there is no effective therapy for the cure of dry AMD. We are exploring the therapeutic innovation of non-VEGF new drug development and long-lasting ocular drug delivery systems for the treatments of DR and AMD.

Corneal Diseases

Immunological graft rejection is the main cause of graft failure for corneal transplantation, and the typical intervention for prevention of graft rejection is a prescription for topical corticosteroid eye drops that must be frequently administered. Drop administration is even more frequent when there are early signs of graft rejection; however, long-term, frequent topical use of corticosteroids leads to poor patient compliance, and for those that comply, risk of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Currently, we are studying a new method to provide sustained delivery of immunosuppressant agents, by SCT administration to safely prevent and treat corneal graft rejection. We are also developing nanomedicine for treating other corneal diseases, like corneal neovascularization, inflammation and infection.


We have been interested in the development of drug-loaded, sub-100 nm, biodegradable nanoparticles with high drug loading and dense PEG coatings for more effective cancer drug delivery, delivered both locally and systemically. A dense coating of PEG allows nanoparticles to evade detection by the immune system following systemic administration while facilitating accumulation in tumors through their leaky vasculature via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. We developed methods by which to achieve both high drug loading and high PEG density on the surface of sub-100 nm nanoparticles.

Pulmonary Drug Delivery

Lung infections represent a major global health problem. The common treatment regimens through oral or parenteral administration of antimicrobials are associated with high systemic antibiotics exposure and low drug availability in the airway, leading to severe adverse effects. Inhalable formulations enable targeted drug delivery to the airway with minimal systemic drug exposure and maximal topical antimicrobial efficacy. Airway mucus presents as a barrier preventing the entry of antibiotics following inhalation, especially in cystic fibrosis patients. We aim to develop a novel powder aerosol formulation of muco-inert nanotherapeutics for antibiotics to overcome mucus barrier using a simple to use handheld powder inhaler to treat respiratory infections.

Opioid Use Disorder

More than 190 people died every day from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two-thirds of those overdose deaths involved opioids. We aim to improve prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction and enhance pain management through finding alternatives using existing medication. We aim to develop novel formulations of levomethadyl acetate (LAAM) as proprietary products to provide additional effective medications to the few existing products available to treat opioid use disorder. We will reformulate LAAM, an FDA-approved opiate dependence medication, into a formulation that can be patented for pharmaceutical companies to distribute.