Yichun Wang, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Notre Dame, has received the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The award, which provides $1.9 million over five years, will enable Wang and her lab to expand work on engineering new nanomaterials that will empower an exosome platform to deliver gene and protein therapeutics.
Exosomes are small particles generated by all cells that transport molecular information to other cells. They are promising drug-delivery vehicles because they are non-toxic and do not trigger harmful immune responses. They also can penetrate deep tissue and cross the blood-brain barrier.
Wang’s MIRA-funded research will combine exosomes with nanoscale biomaterials developed by her team to enhance the effectiveness of transporting and delivering drugs to treat a range of diseases and disorders.
“Imagine cancer treatments that could precisely target tumors, or neurological disorders being tackled with drug-carrying exosomes crossing the blood-brain barrier,” said Wang.
“Our research holds the promise of reshaping healthcare through efficient, targeted and multifunctional exosome-based therapies.”
Wang completed her research training as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, where she also received her Ph.D. She joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2020.
— Karla Cruise, Notre Dame College of Engineering