Immune cells direct adaptation by shaping the chemical microenvironment of infections, injury and chronic diseases. For example, Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) accelerate molecular oxygen depletion and dysfunctional production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the tissue microenvironment, leading to hypoxia and collateral tissue damage driven my excessive accumulation of ROS. Therefore, I focus on the importance of tissue redox-balancing (molecular oxygen delivery and ROS control) for microbial pathogenicity, activity of antibiotics, and host response in chronic inflammations involving PMNs and macrophages. To achieve this, I'm currently using my unique multidisciplinary skillset in synthetic and supramolecular chemistry, bio-instructive molecular hydrogels design, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine to develop novel nanomaterials platform that can
(i) quantitatively monitor and regulate ROS level
(ii) self-generate and deliver molecular oxygen
(iii) signal multiple host cells populations and repair damaged tissues without the use of growth factors or cytokines
(iv) function as a multi-target nanomaterial technology to treat a broad range of chronic diseases with complex etiology.
I work closely with world-leading experts in immunology and immune-bioengineering, microbiology, tissue engineering, bioinformatics as well as clinicians and industrial partners.
I am obsessed with designing gel-phase materials and their usage in interdisciplinary research. Gel materials are fascinating and have found applications in our everyday life, from cosmetics to biomaterials. Gels created by assembling simple organic molecules in water using non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding, are particularly of interest to me. This type of gels are called molecular or self-assembling hydrogels. These hydrogels are tailorable, biomimetic, nanofibrous, programmable, responsive, and reversible, making them ideal smart nanomaterials. Harnessing these unique properties and the possibility to incorporate other components, I have previously designed and created hydrogels that can remove toxic chemicals from waste water, recovered gold nanoparticles from simulated mine waste stream, encapsulate and deliver drug candidates, direct biomineralization, stimulate cell signalling in vitro, and promote tissue regeneration in vivo.