Intracellular trafficking of nano-sized carriers
Intracellular delivery of therapeutics into living cells is related to the efficiency of nanomedicine. Therefore, we aim to design the next generation of nanocarriers by understanding intracellular trafficking and identifying strategies to target specific organelles. To this purpose, our lab has focused on: 1) identifying the internalization pathways of nanoparticles with different sizes and surface modifications; 2) tracking the intracellular localization of nanoparticles by chemically conjugating fluorophore to nanoparticles; 3) achieving subcellular targeting by modifying nanoparticles with short peptide ligands. With these strategies, we showed that the intracellular delivery pathway is correlated with the surface ligands. For example, non-modified PEG-PCL nanoparticles utilize mainly clathrin-mediated endocytosis for cell entry, folate-labeled PEG-PCL nanoparticles of certain size range prefer caveolea-dependent pathways, and octaarginine-modified PEG-PCL nanoparticles enter the cell via macropinocytosis.