Synthetic and biological nanoparticles for cancer and beyond



Dr. Joy Wolfram

August 30 at 12:20pm in the Fralin Auditorium, 102 Fralin Hall

Hosted by Dr. E. Boeding


Dr. Joy Wolfram is an Assistant Professor at Mayo Clinic in Florida, where she leads the Nanomedicine and Extracellular Vesicles Laboratory. In 2016, she completed her Ph.D. in nanotechnology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She has authored over 50 publications and received more than 30 scientific awards from seven different countries. She was included in the Amgen Scholars Ten to Watch List, which highlights the best and brightest up-and-comers in science and medicine across 42 countries. She was also listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 in healthcare in 2019. She is a board member and scientific advisor of several companies around the world with a cumulative customer base of over 18 million. Her goal is to develop innovative nanomedicines that bring the next generation of treatments directly to the clinic. Her mission is also to inspire and support underrepresented minorities in science. She is actively involved in community outreach and scientific education, including serving as chair of the Physical Sciences-Oncology Network Education and Outreach Working Group of the National Cancer Institute in the United States. As a TEDx and Hello Tomorrow speaker she strives to bring science to a wider audience. 

Patients are dying every second! We need new and innovative solutions to diagnose and treat diseases. We have developed nanomedicine-based strategies that include optimization of nanoparticle size and shape, temporarily blocking the liver to prevent nanoparticle clearance by this organ, and using patient-derived biological nanoparticles. The shape and size of nanoparticles can be optimized to increase binding to tumor vasculature through exploitation of hemodynamics. Nanoparticles display increased interactions with the vessel wall due to tumor blood flow characteristics, resulting in enhanced exposure of cancer cells to therapeutic agents. Specifically, large discoidal nanoparticles display preferential binding to cancer vasculature. Additionally, the microenvironment of the mononuclear phagocyte system can be altered with pharmacological agents to reduce nanoparticle clearance by macrophages. Notably, systemically injected nanoparticles accumulate preferentially in tissue-resident macrophages of the liver and spleen, thereby limiting site-specific delivery. In fact, drug-repurposing strategies, such as the use of chloroquine, are promising for modulating macrophage activity to obtain reduced nanoparticle endocytosis. Additionally, my team is focused on the development of extracellular vesicles for cancer diagnostics and anti-inflammatory therapy. Extracellular vesicles are endogenous nanoparticles that are secreted by all cells and play a pivotal role in cell communication both over short and long distances. Extracellular vesicles can be exploited for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes as they contain a broad range of biologically active molecules, including lipids, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and proteins.    

Suggested Reading 1.pdf Clinical cancer nanomedicine
Suggested Reading 2.pdf A chloroquine-induced macrophage-preconditioning strategy for improved nanodelivery
Wolfram Flyer

This seminar will be livestreamed and recorded on the Fralin YouTube channel.