[Illinois] CMMB IGERT & M-CNTC Annual Symposium: Development of Monodisperse, Anticancer Silica-Drug Nanoconjugates

By Li Tang

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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An abstract of Li Tang's work:
The goal of my Ph. D. research is to develop a precisely size-controlled drug conjugated silica nanoparticles as a new type of drug delivery system for improved cancer therapy. By using such monodisperse, drug-containing NPs with discrete and incremental difference in sizes, my aim is to study and elucidate the existing relationships among particle size, biologic processing, and therapeutic functionality and to identify the optimal size of nanomedicine for the highest anticancer efficacy. I developed a novel drug delivery platform based on drug-silica nanoconjugates (drug-NCs) that can be controllably fabricated with nearly any desired sizes between 20 and 200 nm, with extremely narrow particle size distribution (less than 10% coefficient of variation), and 10-20% drug loading and controlled drug release profile. These drug-NCs can be easily prepared on a gram scale also with perfectly controlled size and monodisperse size distribution. The in vitro and in vivo studies using these size-controlled drug-NCs demonstrated that particles of smaller sizes (≤50nm) are more efficient in bypassing the systemic, tissue, and cellular barriers, the three physiological barriers that are critical for effective drug delivery for cancer treatment. Interestingly, the drug-NC of 50 nm showed enhanced efficacy for inhibiting both primary tumor growth and tumor metastasis in breast cancer models in vivo. Further application of using the size controlled dual-modal silica NCs for targeted imaging of metastatic lymph nodes was studied. By demonstrating the long term safety in preliminary toxicology studies and addressing several formulation/development issues (e.g. salt-stability, scalability and lyophilizability, etc.), we developed a potentially clinically applicable, silica based drug-NCs with the optimized size for cancer therapy. My Ph.D. research not only established the design criteria of nanomedicine for cancer therapy, but also offered a solution to improve anticancer efficacy by precisely controlling the physicochemical properties of nanomedicine.


Li Tang is a graduate student at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering under the supervision of Professor Jianjun Cheng. He received his B.S. of Chemistry degree from Beijing University, China, in 2007. He is currently developing novel polylactide or silica based nanoconjugates for cancer and diabetes treatment. He hopes to become a leader in the area of nanomedicine in future. He was the recipient of the Cyrus Tang Scholarship for four consecutive times (2003–2006) from the Cyrus Tang Foundation and also received Zhao Tai Undergraduate Research Fellowship from Sino Capital Education Foundation in 2005.

From Li Tang's Trainee profile

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Midwest Cancer Nanotechnology Traning Center (M-CNTC) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers and applications of nanotechnology in cancer research It is known that more than 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer during 2010, and half a million have died (Cancer Statistics 2010, ACS). In spite of considerable effort, there has been limited success in reducing per capita deaths from cancer since 1950. This calls for a paradigm shift in the understanding, detection, and intervention of the evolution of cancer from a single cell to tumor scale.

In response to this challenge the M-CNTC has assembled a preeminent interdisciplinary team of researchers and educators across the University of Illinois and clinical collaborators in the Midwest to train the next generation of engineers, physical scientists, and biologists to address the challenge of understanding, managing, diagnosing, and treating cancer using the most recent advancements in nanotechnology.

Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology (CMMB-IGERT) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers of cellular and molecular mechanics and bionanotechnology Critical experiments during the last decade show a fundamental link between the micro- and macro-mechanical environment (i.e., intracellular forces, local shear, gravitational force) and a variety of cell functionalities, their lineage, and phenotype. These findings pose the grand challenge: what is the underlying molecular mechanism that cells employ to transduce mechanical signals to biochemical pathways?

In response to this challenge the CMMB IGERT launched an interdisciplinary research effort with national and international collaborators.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Li Tang (2013), "[Illinois] CMMB IGERT & M-CNTC Annual Symposium: Development of Monodisperse, Anticancer Silica-Drug Nanoconjugates," http://nanohub.org/resources/14062.

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Charlie Newman, NanoBio Node

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign