Zhou Research

Laboratory of Translational Nanomedicine

Brain Nanomed Diagram

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is highly resistant to surgical, pharmacological, and radiation therapies and poses an important public health problem in the US. Recent studies suggest that one of the reasons for failure results from inability to target the most treatment-resistant cell population in the tumor called brain cancer stem cells (BCSCs). Accumulated evidence indicates that BCSCs are the origin of glioma development, as they have the exclusive ability to drive tumor formation and a high capacity to promote angiogenesis.

Unfortunately, standard regimens for treating gliomas are not able to effectively eliminate BCSCs. Clearly, improved treatment of malignant gliomas requires effective treatment of BCSCs. However, eradicating BCSCs is a major challenge. Apart from the unavailability of BCSC-specific therapeutic agents, conventional drug delivery approaches do not effectively reach this target population, because the brain possesses the blood brain barrier (BBB).

To address these challenges, we develop a multidisciplinary research program that combines recent advances in brain cancer stem cell biology, neural stem cell biology, and emerging nanotechnology. Specifically, we take an integrative systems biology approach to identify novel therapeutic targets for brain cancer. At the same time, we develop multifunctional nanoparticles and engineered stem cells for delivering therapeutic agents or gene therapy to the brain. We expect that the combination of these advances will lead to more effective methods to treat human brain cancer.