Researchers Drawn to Nanomedicine Showcase

By Ben Boulden


William Culp, M.D., left, talks with Issam Makhoul, M.D., at the second UAMS College of Medicine Showcase of Medical Discoveries.

Vladimir Zharov, Ph.D., left, discusses medical research with Arkansas Democrat Gazette publisher Walter Hussman, and James Suen, M.D., at the showcase.

March 4, 2013 | With hors d’oeuvres and a relaxed atmosphere, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) took a second swipe Feb. 27 at knocking down the barriers between medical researchers and their academic disciplines.

UAMS research scientists and physicians gathered for “The Showcase of Medical Discoveries: A Focus on Nanomedicine,” the second of an ongoing series. The first showcase was in November and focused on cardiovascular research on campus. Both were sponsored by the UAMS College of Medicine to give the college’s research scientists the opportunity to discuss their findings with each other, donors and interested students and faculty.

“This is a good exposure,” said William Culp, M.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Radiology. “I was only aware of about a third of what’s up here. This is a good thing for the faculty to find out what other faculty are doing.”

Like the representatives of 10 other research teams standing before large posters summarizing their projects, Culp talked with several of the 100 people at the gathering in the rotunda of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. He was part of a group looking for potential ways to use nanomedicine to protect stroke patients from neurological damage.

The idea for the showcase grew out of a series of roundtable discussions Debra Fiser, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine, and Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., vice chancellor of research, had with College of Medicine faculty. Each discussion group involved 10-12 faculty members, and nearly every group expressed a desire for more opportunities to interact with fellow faculty members on a social basis regarding their scientific work.

At the February showcase, Fiser said the first goal of the events is to foster a spirit of collaboration among research teams, and the second goal is to introduce to its researchers people who are actively involved at UAMS and donors.

“In some cases, they are people who haven’t donated to research but have a general interest in science or in the area and want to know more,” Fiser said. “The feedback we’ve gotten from attendees has been very positive. They’ve said this is something that is fascinating to them, and they have enjoyed interacting directly with the scientists.”

One of the researchers at the February showcase was among the many who said he enjoyed the interaction.

“You can’t be a scientist without absolute commitment,” said Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D., professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “If you’re committed to that, then why would you not want to talk about it?”

Smeltzer’s research is exploring the use of nanotechnology to fight bacteria, particularly Staphylococcus aureus. The showcases give researchers a chance to learn more about how others are using the technology

Cornett said because the feedback has been positive and the turnout good at both events, it is likely there will be more showcase events later this year.

Posters at the showcase, using text and graphics, described the work of many different research project groups that include dozens of basic and clinical scientists as well as trainees. They were:

·         Nanotechnology: A Tiny Solution to Huge Problems in Infectious Disease? Researchers: Karen Beenken, Ekaterina Galanzha, Vladimir Zharov, Mark Smeltzer

·         Biodegradable Starch Nanoparticles are an Effective and Safe Adjuvant for Sonothrombolysis Especially for more Fibrin Rich, Aged and Rigid Clots. Researchers: Kaleb Smithson, Dheeraj Ahluwallia, Ajay Malshe, Eric Hamilton, Laura Bernock, Michael Borrelli

·         Developing Novel Nanotherapies for the Treatment of Methamphetamine Addiction. Researchers: Nisha Nanaware-Kharade, Emily Reichard, Shraddha Thakkar, Guillermo Gonzalez III, Reha Celikel, Kottayil Varughese, Eric Peterson

·         Repeated Doses of Dodecafluoropentane Emulsion, a Nanodroplet, Provide Neuoprotection Up to 24 Hours Following Cerebral Artery Occlusion in Rabbits. Researchers: Sean Woods, Robert Skinner, Aliza Brown, Aaron Ricca, Jennifer Johnson, Evan Unger, NuvOx Pharma LLC, Michael Borrelli, John Lowery, William Culp

·         Human UGTs: A Novel Role in Modulating Cytotoxicity in Cancer. Researchers: Anna Radominska-Pandya, Tariq Fahmi, FeAna Francis Devaraj, Centdrika Dates, Aleksandra Greer, Sebastian Pyrek, Stacie Bratton

·         Real-Time Monitoring of Nanoparticle and Drug Nanocarrier Pharmokinetics with Ultra-Fast Photoacoustic Flow Cytometry. Mustafa Sarimollaoglu, Dmitry Nedosekin, Ekaterina Galanzha, Vladimir Zharov

·         A Novel Strategy for Targeted Drug Delivery to the Tumor Vasculature by Radiation-Induced Receptor Expression on Endothelial Cells. Researchers: Meenakshi Upreti, Azemat Jamsidi-Parsian, Eldin Swindell, Scott Apana, Marc Berridge, Nathan Koonce, Thomas V. O’Halloran, Robert Griffin

·         Photothermal Nanodrugs: Potential of Functionalized TNF-Gold Nanospheres for Cancer Theranostics. Researchers: Robert Griffin, Jingwei Shao, Ekaterina Galanzha, Jin-Woo Kim, Nathan Koonce, Jessica Webber, Dmitry Nedosekin, Alexandru Biris, Vladimir Zharov

·         Novel DNA Fragmentation-based Technology for the Assessment of Nanomaterial Toxicity In Vitro and In Vivo. Researchers: Eugene Apostolov, Tariq Fahmi, Todd Fite, Alena Savenka, Xiaoying Wang, Anna Stewart, Oleg Karaduta, Daesong Jang, Dmitry Zhdanov, Alexei Basnakian

·         Characterization of Carbon-based Nanomaterials Using Innovative Analytical Photothermal and Photoacoustic Techniques In Vitro and In Vivo. Researchers: Dmitry Nedosekin, Ekaterina Galanzha, Vladimir Zharov.