Nano Science, Mega Impact
Nanoparticles are minute particles—a million times smaller than the thickness of a single human hair. Although they are commonly found in nature, we can also create nanoparticles in the lab. Their small size gives them special optical, magnetic and electrical properties that make them preferred materials in everything from sunscreen to electronics to medicine.
Dr. Warren Chan, Canada Research Chair in Nanobioengineering, is applying his expertise in chemistry and biomedical engineering to revolutionize how we make and use nanoparticles in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Currently, less than 1 per cent of medical nanoparticles ever reach their intended target, with the rest getting trapped in other tissues along the way. But by focusing on improving our understanding of how nanotechnology interacts with living tissue, Chan is changing ideas about how we can deliver nanomedicines inside our bodies.
Using animal models as well as advanced computer databases and techniques, Chan and his research team are creating the first-ever map of how different nanoparticles behave within living tissues. Once completed, this map will serve as a blueprint to design the next generation of nanoparticles. The aim is to create whole nanosystems for imaging or treatment that can navigate the different tissues and organs of the body, even shape-shifting as needed, to reach their intended targets.
Chan’s innovative approach is advancing the field of nanotechnology and opening new doors for personalized medicine.