A bioengineer from the University of Texas at Arlington is leading a project that will develop biodegradable nanomaterials that capture images and deliver drugs to fight peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Kytai Nguyen, a professor of bioengineering at UT Arlington, is the principal investigator on the four-year, $2.1 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. She works with Jian Yang, a professor of bioengineering at Penn State University and a former UTA faculty member, and Ralph Mason, a professor of radiology at UT Southwestern.
“What’s important about this project is that the technology includes fluorescence and ultrasound imaging capabilities that will provide patients and physicians with more detailed information,” Nguyen said. “It also gives patients more targeted medications and makes them more efficient.”
PAD, better known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, is a condition that is common in older people. It affects more than 200 million people worldwide and is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates.
The research aims to develop novel biodegradable nanoparticles to provide therapeutics that specifically protect cells under stress conditions, facilitate blood vessel formation under hypoxia, and enable non-invasive multimodal imaging methods.
One implication of the research is to use these new nanoparticle platforms to locally deliver any therapeutics, treat the disease effectively, and monitor treatment noninvasively through imaging. The overall goal is to reduce complications and improve quality of life for PAD patients, Nguyen said.
Michael Cho, chair of the UT Arlington Bioengineering Department, said Nguyen’s innovative research could greatly help those living with PAD.
“This cutting-edge technology has an opportunity to transform our protocols for dealing with atherosclerosis,” Cho said. “If you can target localized lesions, it’s much better for patients and much less invasive than current treatment.”
Nguyen, who has been with UT Arlington since 2005, received grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas in 2010, 2016, and 2021. She has also received grants from the NIH, the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the US Department of Education and Defense, among others.
She is a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors, a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, a member of the UTA Academy of Distinguished Scholars, a fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering, and a fellow of the American Heart Association.