Latest AIM Projects

A New Method to Enhance Lung Cancer Treatment



    Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. Small molecule Tyrosine Kinase (TK) Inhibitors acting on the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors (EGFRs) are standard therapies for patients with NSCLC harboring EGFR-TK inhibitor-sensitizing mutations. However, fewer than 10 % of patients with NSCLC benefit from this therapy. Moreover, this therapy can cause severe systemic toxicities and is ineffective in preventing non-canonical EGFR signaling.

    Rutgers researchers have developed a novel multi-tier biotechnology treatment approach, where Nanostructured Lipid Carriers (NLCs) targeted to NSCLC cells by a synthetic Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone (LHRH) decapeptide is used for the simultaneous delivery of paclitaxel (TAX) and a pool of siRNAs targeted to the four major forms of EGFR-TKs. LHRH-NLC-siRNAs-TAX nanoparticles were synthesized, characterized and tested in vitro using human lung cancer cells with different sensitivities to gefitinib (inhibitor of EGFR) and in vivo on an orthotopic NSCLC mouse model. 

    The result shows a favorable organ distribution and superior anticancer effect when compared with treatment by a single drug, inhibitor of one EGFR-TK and non-targeted therapy.


Market Applications: 

Intellectual Property & Development Status: Patent Pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.

 Publications: Theranostics (2019 Oct 22;9(26):8362-8376), “Strategy to enhance lung cancer treatment by five essential elements: inhalation delivery, nanotechnology, tumor-receptor targeting, chemo- and gene therapy."


Elimination of Aflatoxin via Aflatoxin-Degrading Enzyme Expression in Crops

This technology involves the expression of an aflatoxin-degrading enzyme in maize kernels. The enzyme was engineered to target the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and become expressed using an embryo-specific promoter in the transgenic maize. It can be used in combination with an RNAi suppression method, HIGS, to protect maize during pre-harvest conditions.

It is estimated that 25% of the world’s crops are contaminated with a mycotoxin, a toxin produced by fungal sources. Aflatoxins are one class of mycotoxins that have two particularly toxic strains that are often found in maize, peanuts, cotton, and tree nuts. When ingested through the consumption of these crops, aflatoxin has been shown to be a Group 1 carcinogen for Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer. HCC is the fourth most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Many countries restrict the levels of aflatoxins allowed in food, which results in millions of crops being disposed of each year.

Most prior methods to reduce the prevalence of aflatoxins in crops have been insufficient and still result in the loss of many crops. Because aflatoxin contaminates crops in both pre-harvest and post-harvest storage, it is essential to have a method that is capable of working under both conditions. This method introduces a bioengineered aflatoxin-degrading enzyme that has the capability to prevent contamination in both conditions when combined with an RNAi suppression method in post-harvest. This method provides the potential to significantly impact food security and safety globally in any crop susceptible to mycotoxins.



Photo-Magnetically Actuated Deformable Mirror

This technology is a flexible deformable mirror and wireless actuator using a combination of light and magnetic components, to enable large and small scale deformations.

Deformable mirrors (DMs) are special mirrors designed to be deformed to provide optical aberration correction in high performance optical systems. These mirrors are particularly useful in astronomy and retinal imaging where image quality needs to be maximized at high magnifications, as well as in control and shaping of laser beams.

Traditional DMs use an array of actuators behind the mirror which deform the mirror when electricity is applied to the actuators. This approach requires many, often high-voltage, electrical connections. This technology, on the other hand, deforms the mirror wirelessly, simplifying the design while simultaneously allowing large amounts of deformation and precise control.



Treatment Of Inherited Retinal Disease

Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) constitutes approximately 10% of childhood inherited blindness cases, and most LCA patients have severe visual impairment and become legally blind due to progressing retinal degeneration. RPE65 encodes a critical enzyme in the retinal pigment epithelium, and loss-of-function mutations in RPE65 is one of the common causes of inherited retinal diseases, making this gene an important target for therapy.

Recently, the FDA approved the first gene therapy for LCA patients with biallelic mutations in RPE65; specifically,treatment involves delivering a full-sized functional copy of RPE65 that is expressed in an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector. Although this AAV-mediated delivery has proven to enhance visual sensitivity for the first year, LCA patients often continue to suffer further retinal degeneration and undergo a relapse in visual sensitivity after one to three years. Moreover, the FDA-approved AAV gene augmentation is limited to solely correcting loss-of-function mutations in small-sized genes.

UCI researchers have improved the current method of LCA therapy by using an adenosine base-editor and single-guide (sgRNA) cassette. Adenosine base editing has the advantage of being more precise than traditional CRISPR editing because adenosine deaminase will directly change single bases within the genome. This newer base editing approach also reduces the chance of undesirable gene insertions and deletions because it does not make double stranded DNA breaks. This treatment approach can be adapted to a variety of inherited retinal diseases, both loss-of- and gain-of-function mutations, because the sgDNA can target small- and large-sized genes.

Polarization-Based Method for Mitigating Wireless Signal Interference Both During Transmission and Receipt

Improves mitigation performance relative to full-band processing for co-channel interference

Heat Dissipation for Microelectronic Systems via Capillary Trap

Enables hot-spot chip cooling via thin-film evaporation

Novel, Non-Invasive Approach to Driving Rhythmic Neural Activity to Control Brain Inflammation

Reaches deep brain regions quickly and precisely to potentially treat brain injuries and diseases, inflammation, and more

Molecular Flux Measurement Device and Method

A device and method of measuring the molecular flux leaving an effusion cell in a molecular beam epitaxy system

Advancing Mass Spectrometry with Novel Interface

Unique device improves size-selective collection and desolvation of charged droplets to enhance the sensitivity of mass spectrometry

Smart Porous Hydrogels to Increase Cold Supply Chain Efficacy of Biologics and Pharmaceuticals

Designed to streamline storage and handling of biologics and pharmaceuticals, decreasing costs while increasing accessibility