- Polymer Therapeutics
In this research area, drugs are chemically linked to the polymer chain (i.e., drug-polymer conjugates), or more importantly, the polymer chain itself is the drug molecule. We are still at the beginning of this exciting research direction and just started with developing new chemistries for sequence-defined copolymers and other polymer chains with interesting structures.
Sequence-defined synthetic copolymer is at the frontier of both polymer science and medicinal chemistry. As a scientific discipline, polymer science has gone through the stages of homopolymers and block copolymers, and now is the time to study the chemistry, physics and biological applications of sequence-defined copolymers, i.e., converging with proteins and nucleic acids.
In the mean time, medicinal chemistry has found numerous active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) as natural small molecules, synthetic small molecules, and recently biological macromolecules. Now it is time to take a fresh look at the fourth quarter of the chemical space (synthetic polymers) for inspirations in designing new therapeutics.
- Drug Delivery
In this area, the drug and polymer are physically mixed without chemical link in between.
Drug nano-dispersions in polymer matrix: the dispersion structure of drugs in polymer matrix is the foundation to understand and design most of the drug delivery systems. We take drug/polymer solid dispersion as a multi-component polymer material system, study its phase diagram and phase separation pathways, and aim to control the drug dispersion nanostructures by designing formulations and processing protocols. Complementary to this in-situ-drug-nanoparticle-formation approach, we are also fabricating drug nanoparticles first and then disperse them into the polymer matrix.
- Polymer Biomaterials
In this area, we are focusing on hydrogels as soft tissue replacements and in other biomedical applications.