The Tirrell laboratory has broad and deep expertise in creating novel, functional self-assembled structures focusing on tailored nanomaterials for a variety of applications, including diagnostic, therapeutic, and antibiotic applications. In many cases our work has involved the specific design of new molecular architectures that showcase the fundamentals of self-assembly. For instance, we have examined how carefully balanced molecular interactions control both the structure and function of an individual molecular component. This interplay can also have a dramatic effect on the shape of the larger self-assembled particle.
The capacity to create a variety of new structures is useful in designing constructs for diagnostic and therapeutic applications where nanoparticles are able to target and home to asymptomatic and resistant pathologies. One such construct is the micellar structure formed by electrostatic complexation of ionic block copolymers, which can be an effective carrier vehicle for charged cargoes such as therapeutic drugs, proteins or nucleic acids. We also have expertise in peptide-based micellar constructs where the dense presentation of a functional peptide at the micelle surface improves the interaction of our nanomaterials with cells. We have used these strategies to great effect as antimicrobial treatments, for the detection and treatment of atherosclerosis and cancer, in regenerative medicines, and also vaccines.
We are poised to both continue the development of new nanomaterials and to drive the use of these constructs as rapidly as possible towards clinical applications. To this end, we work closely with scientific, technical, and clinical collaborators both at the University of Chicago and elsewhere.