Building microparticles for drug delivery
I came to Genoa about a year ago, after completing my PhD in Singapore. I remember googling the weather statistics and thinking to myself, it cannot be that bad, I can handle it. Little did I know that I’d be talking about the weather all the time. In the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to explore Italy. It is the perfect place to appreciate the closeness of art and science. Understanding the travel of influences across the silk-route has given me a new visual how similar yet how different Indians and Italians are.
Being selected for the MINDED fellowship was exciting yet nerve-wracking. I recall feeling a mix of amazement and fear when I first came here. To my surprise, the environment at IIT enabled me to kick-start my research work rather quickly. Our lab is full of people from diverse backgrounds making it a breeding ground for ideas. Furthermore, being part of MINDED has led me to learn about various disciplines like neuroscience and robotics, and get a unique perspective on my research.
At the laboratory of nanotechnology for precision medicine, we develop biomimetic polymeric particles for drug delivery. Since the particles are not spherical in nature, they cannot be synthesized using simple self-assembly techniques. The particles are synthesized through a bottom-up approach, which restricts batch size and sometimes leads to operator dependent variability. It is essential to develop scalable techniques to synthesize these particles so that new formulations can translate from bench to bedside. Currently, I am working towards developing a scalable system for polymerization of monomeric fluid flowing in a microfluidic channel; we can synthesize microparticles that encapsulate various cargo molecules and nano-constructs. We are working towards further fine-tuning the process and improving the yield.
Eventually, we hope that we can develop sophisticated nano-drug delivery systems that can evade clearance and release the cargo over an extended period. With our collective effort, we want to improve the mechanistic understanding of diseases and development of novel therapeutic materials.
Apart from the academic aspect, this endeavor has challenged me in ways I had not anticipated. Genoa is beautiful in its own way, but appreciating it takes time. The language, the pesto, the camaraderie and the mountains have left a lasting impression on me and I wish I can further immerse myself in this Italian experience.
Purnima Naresh Manghnani is a Researcher in the Laboratory of Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine at IIT’s central lab in Genova. She is one of MINDED project’s fellows.
MINDED has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754490.