Speaker: Dr Subbu Venkatraman
Affiliation: Executive Director - ILO NUS & Adj Professor - Materials Science & Engineering, NUS
Host: Prof Antonio Castro Neto
Location: Click HERE for directions
Abstract Details: The field of Nanomedicine encompasses in vivo imaging, nano-therapeutics, ex vivo diagnostics and regenerative medicine. I will explain the unmet needs in each category, and how materials can change medical paradigms. Nanomaterials are the key enabling technology in the advancement of nanomedicine, as I will show in this talk using our own examples in the area of gene silencing.
I will also give a historical perspective on the use of nano-therapeutics. In particular, nanomaterials have been heavily researched for selective cancer therapy, with the promise of reduced side effects. This has only partially been realized. Since the introduction of the first Nanotherapeutic (Doxil®) in 1995, very few nano-carrier based systems have been approved for use on human patients. I will trace the history of nanotherapeutic products to date, and explain why translation to the clinic has been slow, with a low success rate.
Some approved nanotherapeutic products are ambisome, depocyt, doxil, lep-etu, abraxane and visudyne.
Our work on Nanotherapeutics:
Based on our experience in the field, it appears certain now that no one nanomaterial will address or revolutionize therapy. We will examine the advantages and limitations of current nanaocarrier systems, vis-à-vis microcarriers. What are the requirements for selective targeting of tissue? Why have current nanomaterials not been able to selectively target tissues? We will present the case of gene silencing, which is in principle one of the most selective therapeutic options. In addition to profiling many approaches to gene silencing, I will discuss our approach to gene silencing using a polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer systems and explain why this system can be both selective and long-lasting in its effects on prevention of fibrosis.
I will also explain other approaches to maximizing selectivity with nanocarriers, and what is needed to overcome current limitations of nanocariers.
UPDATE ON THE ROLE OF ILO: current initiatives
I will give an overview of our NUS ILO, and explain how we can help faculty/students to participate in the translation of their research and of their technologies. In this context, we have several new schemes including initiatives with Chinese organizations.
About the Speaker: Professor Subbu Venkatraman has a PhD in Polymer Chemistry from Carnegie-Mellon University. He has spent about 15 years in materials and biomedical R&D in the USA, working with various applications of polymeric materials, before joining NTU as an Associate Professor in 2000. He was instrumental in starting the Biomaterials effort in NTU and developing the paradigm of research driven by medical needs. He served as Associate Chair for Research for 6 years, before taking over as Chair in 2011. Under his watch the School jumped 41 places in the rankings to #3 as per the QS rankings, and #1 as per the US News & World Report rankings. He has published extensively in the field of biomaterials, with a total of 240 publications, H-index of 40 and a citation count of 6780. He also holds 60 granted patents from a total of 171 applications. His translational work in biomaterials has led to 3 spin-off companies, with one of them (Amaranth Medical) obtaining substantial series C funding. He has also received the 2014 Singapore President's Technology Award together with Prof Freddy Boey and Adjunct A/P Tina Wong, for their innovative application of nanostructures and novel drug delivery approach to combat blindness from glaucoma. He is also the co-founder of Peregrine Ophthlamic Pte Ltd and Amaranth Medical Pte Ltd.
His research group is interested in designing and modifying materials for biomedical applications. In this work, they are closely associated with local hospitals and researchers, including the National Heart Centre, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Cancer Centre. Overall, the focus of the work is in bringing benefits to patients through imaginative use of biomaterials and medical devices. He joined NUS ILO in December 2019, where he is in charge of technology management for NUS, Additionally, he will also be in charge of NUS NOC in N. America. He also hopes to continue some of his own work in Nanomedicine at NUS