Nanotherapeutics for Neurological Disorders
Elizabeth Nance, PhD
Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Center for Nanomedicine
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD
Compared to conventional drug delivery platforms, nanoparticles can safely provide well-dispersed, sustained-release of therapeutics that are directly targeted to diseased regions of the central nervous system (CNS), as well as to specific cell types within those regions. Neurodevelopmental disorders are associated with chronic disabilities, have no effective cure, and are often underserved by novel drug delivery technologies, which primarily focus on adults. Therefore, there is great potential to bring nanotherapeutic approaches to neurodevelopmental disorders, with results that can also be translated to adult brain disorders. Neuroinflammation, mediated by activated microglia and astrocytes, plays a key role in the pathogenesis of many neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, including Alzheimer’s, autism, cerebral palsy (CP), stroke, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recent literature suggests that attenuating neuroinflammation in the early stages can not only delay the onset, but may also provide a longer therapeutic window for treatment. Targeting activated microglia/astrocytes with nanotechnology may offer such an opportunity. Dr. Nance will discuss associated challenges with nanotechnology delivery to the brain, and explain her research goals of understanding nanoparticle interactions, as both biophysical probes and imaging biomarkers, within disease physiology and pathology. She will then discuss ways this information can be used to better design nanotherapeutic platforms for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Elizabeth Nance is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. She is interested in integrating engineering, neuroscience, and medicine to develop translational nanotechnology platforms for application in brain disorders. Her postdoctoral training in neuroscience and critical care medicine focuses on characterizing disease pathology and its’ impact on nanotherapeutic design for treating pediatric brain disorders, including cerebral palsy and neonatal stroke. Elizabeth received her PhD in 2012 in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Justin Hanes at Johns Hopkins University. She started a new area of research in the Center for Nanomedicine at Johns Hopkins, focusing on design and implementation of a brain-penetrating nanoparticle platform for the treatment of central nervous system diseases, specifically brain cancer. This platform is patented and currently used around the country for probing biological mediums, including tissue and fluids, to better understand the mechanics of nanoparticle transport both in normal and diseased environments.