Implantable Nanosensors for Human Steroid Hormone Sensing In Vivo Using a Self-Templating Corona Phase Molecular Recognition

Dynamic measurements of steroid hormones in vivo are critical, but steroid sensing is currently limited by the availability of specific molecular recognition elements due to the chemical similarity of these hormones. In this work, a new, self‐templating synthetic approach is applied using corona phase molecular recognition (CoPhMoRe) targeting the steroid family of molecules to produce near infrared fluorescent, implantable sensors. A key limitation of CoPhMoRe has been its reliance on library generation for sensor screening. This problem is addressed with a self‐templating strategy of polymer design, using the examples of progesterone and cortisol sensing based on a styrene and acrylic acid copolymer library augmented with an acrylated steroid. The pendant steroid attached to the corona backbone is shown to self‐template the phase, providing a unique CoPhMoRE design strategy with high efficacy. The resulting sensors exhibit excellent stability and reversibility upon repeated analyte cycling. It is shown that molecular recognition using such constructs is viable even in vivo after sensor implantation into a murine model by employing a poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel and porous cellulose interface to limit nonspecific absorption. The results demonstrate that CoPhMoRe templating is sufficiently robust to enable a new class of continuous, in vivo biosensors.


A Fiber Optic Interface Coupled to Nanosensors: Applications to Protein Aggregation and Organic Molecule Quantification

Fluorescent nanosensors hold promise to address analytical challenges in the biopharmaceutical industry. The monitoring of therapeutic protein critical quality attributes such as aggregation is a longstanding challenge requiring low detection limits and multiplexing of different product parameters. However, general approaches for interfacing nanosensors to the biopharmaceutical process remain minimally explored to date. Herein, we design and fabricate a integrated fiber optic nanosensor element, measuring sensitivity, response time, and stability for applications to the rapid process monitoring. The fiber optic-nanosensor interface, or optode, consists of label-free nIR fluorescent single-walled carbon nanotube transducers embedded within a protective yet porous hydrogel attached to the end of the fiber waveguide. The optode platform is shown to be capable of differentiating the aggregation status of human immunoglobulin G, reporting the relative fraction of monomers and dimer aggregates with sizes 5.6 and 9.6 nm, respectively, in under 5 min of analysis time. We introduce a lab-on-fiber design with potential for at-line monitoring with integration of 3D-printed miniaturized sensor tips having high mechanical flexibility. A parallel measurement of fluctuations in laser excitation allows for intensity normalization and significantly lower noise level (3.7-times improved) when using lower quality lasers, improving the cost effectiveness of the platform. As an application, we demonstrate the capability of the fully-integrated lab-on-fiber system to rapid monitoring of various bioanalytes including serotonin, norepinephrine, adrenaline, and hydrogen peroxide, in addition to proteins and their aggregation states. These results in total constitute an effective form factor for nanosensor based transducers for applications in industrial process monitoring.

DNA-SWCNT Biosensors Allow Real-Time Monitoring of Therapeutic Responses in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly desmoplastic cancer with limited treatment options. There is an urgent need for tools that monitor therapeutic responses in real time. Drugs such as gemcitabine and irinotecan elicit their therapeutic effect in cancer cells by producing hydrogen peroxide (HO). In this study, specific DNA-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT), which precisely monitor HO, were used to determine the therapeutic response of PDAC cells and tumors . Drug therapeutic efficacy was evaluated by monitoring HO differences using reversible alteration of Raman G-bands from the nanotubes. Implantation of the DNA-SWCNT probe inside the PDAC tumor resulted in approximately 50% reduction of Raman G-band intensity when treated with gemcitabine versus the pretreated tumor; the Raman G-band intensity reversed to its pretreatment level upon treatment withdrawal. In summary, using highly specific and sensitive DNA-SWCNT nanosensors, which can determine dynamic alteration of hydrogen peroxide in tumor, can evaluate the effectiveness of chemotherapeutics. SIGNIFICANCE: A novel biosensor is used to detect intratumoral hydrogen peroxide, allowing real-time monitoring of responses to chemotherapeutic drugs.


Implanted Nanosensors in Marine Organisms for Physiological Biologging: Design, Feasibility, and Species Variability

In recent decades, biologists have sought to tag animals with various sensors to study aspects of their behavior otherwise inaccessible from controlled laboratory experiments. Despite this, chemical information, both environmental and physiological, remains challenging to collect despite its tremendous potential to elucidate a wide range of animal behaviors. In this work, we explore the design, feasibility, and data collection constraints of implantable, near-infrared fluorescent nanosensors based on DNA-wrapped single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNT) embedded within a biocompatible poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel. These sensors are enabled by Corona Phase Molecular Recognition (CoPhMoRe) to provide selective chemical detection for marine organism biologging. Riboflavin, a key nutrient in oxidative phosphorylation, is utilized as a model analyte in in vitro and ex vivo tissue measurements. Nine species of bony fish, sharks, eels, and turtles were utilized on site at Oceanogràfic in Valencia, Spain to investigate sensor design parameters, including implantation depth, sensor imaging and detection limits, fluence, and stability, as well as acute and long-term biocompatibility. Hydrogels were implanted subcutaneously and imaged using a customized, field-portable Raspberry Pi camera system. Hydrogels could be detected up to depths of 7 mm in the skin and muscle tissue of deceased teleost fish ( Sparus aurata and Stenotomus chrysops) and a deceased catshark ( Galeus melastomus). The effects of tissue heterogeneity on hydrogel delivery and fluorescence visibility were explored, with darker tissues masking hydrogel fluorescence. Hydrogels were implanted into a living eastern river cooter ( Pseudemys concinna), a European eel ( Anguilla anguilla), and a second species of catshark ( Scyliorhinus stellaris). The animals displayed no observable changes in movement and feeding patterns. Imaging by high-resolution ultrasound indicated no changes in tissue structure in the eel and catshark. In the turtle, some tissue reaction was detected upon dissection and histopathology. Analysis of movement patterns in sarasa comet goldfish ( Carassius auratus) indicated that the hydrogel implants did not affect swimming patterns. Taken together, these results indicate that this implantable form factor is a promising technique for biologging using aquatic vertebrates with further development. Future work will tune the sensor detection range to the physiological range of riboflavin, develop strategies to normalize sensor signal to account for the optical heterogeneity of animal tissues, and design a flexible, wearable device incorporating optoelectronic components that will enable sensor measurements in moving animals. This work advances the application of nanosensors to organisms beyond the commonly used rodent and zebrafish models and is an important step toward the physiological biologging of aquatic organisms.


Characterization of magnetic nanoparticle-seeded microspheres for magnetomotive and multimodal imaging

Magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles have been developed as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and as therapeutic agents in magnetic hyperthermia. They have also recently been demonstrated as contrast and elastography agents in magnetomotive optical coherence tomography and elastography (MM-OCT and MM-OCE, respectively). Protein-shell microspheres containing suspensions of these magnetic nanoparticles in lipid cores, and with functionalized outer shells for specific targeting, have also been demonstrated as efficient contrast agents for imaging modalities such as MM-OCT and MRI, and can be easily modified for other modalities such as ultrasound, fluorescence, and luminescence imaging. In addition to multimodal contrast-enhanced imaging, these microspheres could serve as drug carriers for targeted delivery under image guidance. Although the preparation and surface modifications of protein microspheres containing iron oxide nanoparticles has been previously described and feasibility studies conducted, many questions regarding their production and properties remain. Since the use of multifunctional microspheres could have high clinical relevance, here we report a detailed characterization of their properties and behavior in different environments to highlight their versatility. The work presented here is an effort for the development and optimization of nanoparticle-based microspheres as multi-modal contrast agents that can bridge imaging modalities on different size scales.

2017 Class of Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

2017 Class of Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation announced today its 2017 class of Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows, individuals who underscore the Foundation’s mission of supporting basic research in the chemistry and life sciences. They were selected after a three-part review led by a panel of scientific experts.

The Foundation will award more than $2.6 million in funding for 20 exceptional research fellows from 13 universities


MIT News: Developing rapid cancer nano sensors

Chemicals like nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide can promote cancer growth. MPC-CMSE Summer Scholar Kaila Holloway is working in the lab of Michael S. Strano, Carbon P. Dubbs Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, to develop tiny chemical sensors to detect their concentrations near tumors in the body.

MIT News: Four from MIT named 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

MIT News: Four from MIT named 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

MIT News – Melanie Miller Kaufman – Department of Chemical Engineering – April 24, 2017

Chemical engineering and chemistry postdocs “expected to become the next generation of leaders and innovators in science, engineering, and technology.”

Danielle Mai and Freddy Nguyen from the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, along with Liela Bayeh and Julianne Troiano of the Department of Chemistry, were awarded 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowships. The two-year, competitive program will support each researcher’s continuing work in their corresponding labs.

Freddy Nguyen, a member of the Michael Strano lab, is working to develop nanoscale molecular sensors for probing cancer tumors and their microenvironments. He would like to implant nanosensors inside tumors to measure their response, at the molecular level, to various cancer therapies such as chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy. In 2016, he earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and in 2015 received a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation – March 30, 2017

2017 Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research: Development of nanosensors for in-vivo monitoring of cancer therapeutics


Freddy Nguyen Chosen for an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award

2015 PhD graduate awarded Beckman Postdoc Fellowship – March 30, 2017

Congratulations to Freddy Nguyen, a 2015 Illinois Chemistry PhD graduate, who was chosen for a prestigious Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award. Nguyen is a postdoctoral researcher at MIT working on development of nanosensors for in vivomonitoring of cancer therapeutics.

According to Nguyen, “The research I am planning to pursue is focused on the development of nanoscale molecular sensors for probing the tumor and its microenvironment. More specifically, we would like to implant our nanosensors inside tumors to to measure their response at the molecular level to various cancer therapies such as chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy. Our nanosensors are detected using near-infrared fluorescence and Raman spectroscopic techniques allowing us to probe the sensors from a distance using near-infrared light and are not susceptible to photobleaching effects unlike typical endogenous and exogenous fluorophores. These unique features of our nanosensors can allow us with a method to dynamically probe the tumor microenvironment in real-time and in-vivo. Patients currently have to wait until there are measurable size changes on CT or MRI scans or must undergo biopsies of the tumor to determine molecular changes in response to treatment. Having access to that molecularinformation within the first few days of treatment will be a tremendous step forward indetermining whether cancer treatments are working for each patient at a much earlier timeframe than the current standard of care. This allows for the patient and physician to morepromptly manage the treatment of their cancer.”

Optical coherence tomography and targeted multi-modal protein microspheres for cancer imaging

The field of biomedical optics has grown quickly over the last two decades as various technological advances have helped increase the acquisition speeds and the sensitivity limits of the technology. During this time, optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been explored for a wide number of clinical applications ranging from cardiology to oncology to primary care. In this thesis, I describe the design and construction of an intraoperative clinical OCT system that can be used to image and classify breast cancer tumor margins as normal, close, or positive. I also demonstrate that normal lymph nodes can be distinguished from reactive or metastatic lymph nodes by looking at the difference in scattering intensity between the cortex and the capsule of the node. Despite the advances of OCT in the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer, this technology is still limited by its field of view and can only provide structural information about the tissue. Structural OCT would benefit from added contrast via sub-cellular or biochemical components via the use of contrast agents and functional OCT modalities. As with most other optical imaging techniques, there is a trade off between the imaging field of view and the high-resolution microscopic imaging. In this thesis, I demonstrate for the first time that MM-OCT can be used as a complimentary technique to wide field imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or fluorescence imaging, using targeted multi-modal protein microspheres. By using a single contrast agent to bridge the wide field and microscopic imaging modalities, a wide field imaging technique can be used to initially localize the contrast agent at the site of interest to guide the location of the MM-OCT imaging to provide a microscopic view. In addition to multi-modal contrast, the microspheres were functionalized with RGD peptides that can target various cancer cell lines. The cancer cells readily endocytosed bound protein microspheres, revealing the possibility that these protein microspheres could also be used as therapeutic agents. These investigations furthered the utility of the OCT technology for cancer imaging and diagnosis.

High resolution live cell Raman imaging using subcellular organelle-targeting SERS-sensitive gold nanoparticles with highly narrow intra-nanogap

We report a method to achieve high speed and high resolution live cell Raman images using small spherical gold nanoparticles with highly narrow intra-nanogap structures responding to NIR excitation (785 nm) and high-speed confocal Raman microscopy. The three different Raman-active molecules placed in the narrow intra-nanogap showed a strong and uniform Raman intensity in solution even under transient exposure time (10 ms) and low input power of incident laser (200 μW), which lead to obtain high-resolution single cell image within 30 s without inducing significant cell damage. The high resolution Raman image showed the distributions of gold nanoparticles for their targeted sites such as cytoplasm, mitochondria, or nucleus. The high speed Raman-based live cell imaging allowed us to monitor rapidly changing cell morphologies during cell death induced by the addition of highly toxic KCN solution to cells. These results strongly suggest that the use of SERS-active nanoparticle can greatly improve the current temporal resolution and image quality of Raman-based cell images enough to obtain the detailed cell dynamics and/or the responses of cells to potential drug molecules.


Measuring uptake dynamics of multiple identifiable carbon nanotube species via high-speed confocal Raman imaging of live cells

Carbon nanotube uptake was measured via high-speed confocal Raman imaging in live cells. Spatial and temporal tracking of two cell-intrinsic and nine nanotube-derived Raman bands was conducted simultaneously in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Movies resolved single (n, m) species, defects, and aggregation states of nanotubes transiently as well as the cell position, denoted by lipid and protein signals. This work portends the real-time molecular imaging of live cells and tissues using Raman spectroscopy, affording multiplexing and complete photostability.

Nanotube-porphyrin molecular structure and applications of same

A molecular structure. In one embodiment, the molecular structure includes a nanotube formed With a plurality of carbon atoms having a first end, an opposite, second end, and a body portion defined there between, wherein the body portion has an interior surface defining a cavity, an opposite, exterior surface and a longitudinal axis therethrough the cavity, and a porphyrin molecule having a plurality of carbon atoms and a first plurality of hydrogen atoms, wherein at its original state the porphyrin molecule has a plurality of pyrrole units and each pyrrole unit is coupled to another pyrrole unit through a methine bridge so as to form a ring structure with a second plurality of hydrogen atoms positioned peripherally along the ring structure. The porphyrin molecule is chemically coupled to the interior surface of the nanotube such that at least one of the second plurality of hydrogen atoms positioned peripherally along the ring structure is replaced by a carbon atom of the nanotube.


Multimodal biomedical imaging with asymmetric single-walled carbon nanotube/iron oxide nanoparticle complexes

Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) form heterostructured complexes that can be utilized as multimodal bioimaging agents. Fe catalyst-grown SWNT were individually dispersed in aqueous solution via encapsulation by oligonucleotides with the sequence d(GT)15, and enriched using a 0.5 T magnetic array. The resulting nanotube complexes show distinct NIR fluorescence, Raman scattering, and visible/NIR absorbance features, corresponding to the various nanotube species. AFM and cryo-TEM images show DNA-encapsulated complexes composed of a approximately 3 nm particle attached to a carbon nanotube on one end. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) measurements reveal that the nanoparticles are primarily Fe2O3 and superparamagnetic. The Fe2O3 particle-enriched nanotube solution has a magnetic particle content of approximately 35 wt %, a magnetization saturation of approximately 56 emu/g, and a magnetic relaxation time scale ratio (T1/T2) of approximately 12. These complexes have a longer spin-spin relaxation time (T2 approximately 164 ms) than typical ferromagnetic particles due to the smaller size of their magnetic component while still retaining SWNT optical signatures. Macrophage cells that engulf the DNA-wrapped complexes were imaged using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and NIR mapping, demonstrating that these multifunctional nanostructures could potentially be useful in multimodal biomedical imaging.

Computational Analysis of Transition Metal Doped Nanotubes and Their Application to Molecular Electronics

We have previously proposed molecular circuits designed from polyaniline polymer strands, polyacetylene polymer strands and charge transfer salts acting as transistors. Due to unique properties that are demonstrated in this manuscript, we propose the use of carbon single wall nanotubes and transition metal endohedrally doped single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) for utilization in molecular electronics. Different transition metals were used in a systematic fashion to manipulate the molecular orbital energy gap (HOMO-LUMO gap) of metallic (Ch = (n = m)) nanotubes. Gradient corrected, Density Functional Theory (DFT) Self Consistent Field (SCF) calculations were used to calculate molecular orbital energy levels, HOMO-LUMO gaps, electron affinities, ionization energies and other electronic properties for these molecules. The effect that a SWNT’s length has on its HOMO-LUMO gap was investigated. DFT-SCF calculations were also used to demonstrate how multiple metal filled nanotubes could be used to construct a molecular nanotube based transistor.