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Plasmonic Nanotechnology, unlike classical nanoparticles (micelles, polymeric and organic nanoparticles), is a new nanoplatform based mainly on noble metallic nanoparticles (gold, silver) that enjoy unique optical properties, which allow various biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. For example, gold nanoparticles absorb light extensively in the visible-near-infrared region of the spectra with molar absorptivity higher than the best organic chromophore ever known (more than 100,000 fold). These optical properties make gold nanoparticles excellent sensing/imaging platform. Interestingly, the absorbed light is converted to local heat surrounding gold nanoparticles, which we employ to kill cancer cells. At the University of Jordan, we are interested in fabricating novel plasmonic nanoparticles (gold and silver) with controlled shape, size, and surface chemistry. Moreover, we are focusing on using these metallic nanoparticles in advanced biomedical applications such as biological and pharmaceutical imaging, analytical sensing, and as photothermal therapeutics to cancer cells/tissues.
We are investigating the use of functionalized inorganic nanoparticles (gold, silver, iron oxide and quantum dots) as smart sensing platforms to unravel the nano-bio interface and enrich our understanding on how nanoparticles behave in biological media, whole organism, and environmental settings. For example, we are interested in using gold nanoparticles as smart probes to understand the cellular uptake, toxicity, and biodistribution of nanoparticles in various cell lines/organisms. The use of gold nanoparticles as a nanoprobe is unique since we can prepare a library of gold nanoparticles with excellent control over size, shape and moreover their surfaces can be modified with wide array of chemical and biological moieties to understand the contribution of surface effective charge, hydrophilicity, and chemical composition on their biological fate. Imaging of gold nanoparticles inside cells/tissue is far easier than other organic nanoparticles since gold nanoparticles are electron rich and act as contrast agents themselves without the need for staining allowing minimum sample preparation effort and imaging artifacts. Quantification of gold nanoparticles insider cells/tissues is also simple and sensitive (zeptomolar as a limit of detection) using acid digestion of the whole cell pellets or tissue followed by ICP-MS analysis (Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry).
Pharmaceutical Formulation Pharmaceutical industry is the second largest exporting industry in Jordan with more than 18 local pharmaceutical manufactures. Dr. Alkilany served as a formulation scientist and a formulation team leader in a Hikma Pharmaceuticals (FDA-approved Jordanian company) for six years. Alkilany’s lab has a special interest in a collaborative effort with the pharmaceutical industry sector towards improved pharmaceutical formulations and/or its manufacturing processes. We are interested in using different classical and advanced pharmaceutical techniques to improve drug solubility, stability, bioavailability, and manufacturability in adherent to regulatory guidelines and good manufacturing practices (GMP). At the time being, we are working on controlling drug release and improving drug dissolution rates/stability using solid dispersion technique, unique hyperbranched polyethyleneglycol polymer and other approaches.