Research Highlights

Advancing Organoid Research Using Bionanotechnology Approaches

Advancing Organoid Research Figure 1pngStem cells are characterized by a unique ability to self-renew and differentiate and have revolutionized modern biological sciences and medical researches with unique approaches for understanding developmental processes and disease modeling. With recent advances in 3D cell culture technology, stem cells are allowed to reside in culture environments emancipating their intrinsic self-organizing properties and form into “organoids” resembling structural as well as functional characteristics of organs [Figure 1]. To advance organoid development, diverse advanced material and engineering techniques have been incorporated into conventional organoid culture methods [Figure 1]. Despite the wide use of organoids and the recent surge of research activity in this field, a comprehensive review covering engineering extracellular matrices to support organoid culture for developmental studies, 3D organ-level biology, and bioengineering-based disease modeling is lacking.

Read more ...


Smart Spheroid Based Stem Cell Figure 1pngCell therapy holds great potential for treating various incurable diseases and disorders, including spinal cord injury (SCI). However, cell death and a lack of control of cell fate limit the clinical application of cell therapies, especially stem cell therapies. Therefore, there is a critical need to develop novel methods to promote cell survival and control of cell fate after transplantation of cells.

Addressing these challenges, Prof. Ki-Bum Lee and his team ( in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers developed hybrid nanomaterial-enhanced stem-cell spheroids to tackle some of the major challenges associated with cell therapies [Figure 1].

Read more ...

CRISPR/Cas-based Nanobiosesning for advanced virus detection

CRISPRViral diseases have received immense attention in the medical and healthcare fields because of the high transmission rates and difficulty in curing, including the recent COVID-19 issue. Nucleic acids are one of the attractive biomarkers to diagnose various viral-associated diseases precisely. Recently, the target nucleic acid-dependent trans-activating phenomenon of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas has shown huge potential for developing sensitive and selective biosensors to detect targeted nucleic acids. However, the nucleic acid amplification steps are conventionally required for sensitive and selective monitoring of the target nucleic acid, requiring multistep reactions, expensive reagents, well-trained personnel, and sophisticated instrumentation.

Read more ...

Hybrid Graphene‐Gold Nanoparticle‐Based Nucleic Acid Conjugates for Cancer‐Specific Multimodal Imaging and Combined Therapeutics

Intelligent Drug Delivery Platform Developed for Personalized Cancer Treatment

Intelligent Drug Delivery Platform




Scheme: An intelligent drug delivery platform composed of thin carbon (graphene)-coated gold nanoparticles is developed for target-specific multimodal cancer therapies and imaging. Image credit: Letao Yang and Ki-Bum Lee.



A team from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers has created an intelligent drug delivery platform that effectively induces apoptotic signaling and may help the personalized treatment of cancer patients.

Read more ...

Effective Modulation of CNS Inhibitory Microenvironment using Bioinspired Hybrid‐Nanoscaffold‐Based Therapeutic Interventions

In Situ Detection Pic

Prof. Ki-Bum Lee’s group at the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department in Rutgers has led the development of an advanced spatiotemporally controlled in vivo drug delivery system for effective modulation of neuroinflammation that may help the treatment of spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders.

FIGURE DESCRIPTION: Current biomaterials‐based treatment of central nervous system (CNS) injuries has been hampered by the resulting neuroinhibitory microenvironment. By targeting two critical neuroinhibitory factors in a single platform, a biomimetic 3D porous hybrid nanoscaffold is created by developing viscous interfacial self‐assembly. The nanoscaffold‐based therapeutic interventions achieve functional recovery through reducing neuroinflammation and fibrotic scarring, thereby paving a new road for the biomaterials‐based treatment of CNS injuries.

Read more ...

In Situ Detection of Neurotransmitters from Stem Cell-Derived Neural Interface at the Single-Cell Level via Graphene-Hybrid SERS Nanobiosensing

In Situ Detection Pic

A graphene oxide (GO)-hybrid nanosurface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) array was developed by a Rutgers team to detect dopamine (DA) selectively and sensitively. Using the GO-hybrid nano-SERS array, a wide range of DA concentrations was detected rapidly and reliably, thereby enabling the measurement of DA from differentiating neural stem cells and the characterization of neuronal differentiation. Given the challenges of in situ detection of neurotransmitters at the single-cell level, our developed SERS-based detection method can represent a unique tool for investigating single-cell signaling pathways associated with DA, various other neurotransmitters, and their roles in neurological signalling.

Read more ...

4D Printing Technology Meets High Throughput Stem Cell Research

4D Printing Tech Pic

3D stem cell assembles such as spheroids and organoids are becoming increasingly popular to mimic complex interactions that are typically absent in traditional 2D cell culture. Unfortunately, 3D cell culture characterization techniques such as histology can be technically challenging, time-consuming, and labor-intensive when processing numerous samples. To make 3D cell culture more accessible and encourage further research using these technologies, high-throughput devices must be developed to facilitate characterization and downstream applications.

Read more ...

Remote Control of Stem Cell Differentiation Using NIR Light

Stem Cell Differenciation Pic 2Stem cell functions and fates are dynamically orchestrated by various biomolecular as well as physical signals in a spatially and temporally controlled manner. Achieving precise control of stem cell fates and functions is of great significance for studying physiological mechanisms, identifying pathogenic pathways, and developing enhanced treatments of devastating diseases. To better investigate and further regulate these complex biological processes, photo-responsive nanomaterials have gained increasing research interests for achieving cell behavior control due to their exceptional photo-physical properties. Lanthanide-doped upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) have gained extensive attention as near-infrared (NIR)-responsive nanomaterials owing to excellent photostability, minimal tissue scattering, and especially anti-stokes ultraviolet (UV) as well as visible emissions, showing great potential in various applications.

Read more ...

Dual-Enhanced Raman Scattering-Based Characterization of Stem Cell Differentiation Using Graphene-Plasmonic Hybrid Nanoarray

stemcellsDual enhanced SERS


CORRESPONDENCE: Prof. Ki-Bum Lee (Rutgers University); Prof. Jeong-Woo Choi (Sogang University)

FIRST AUTHORS: Dr. Letao Yang (Rutgers University); Dr. Jin-Ho Lee (Rutgers University)


Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) has demonstrated great potential to analyze a variety of bio/chemical molecular interactions within cells in a highly sensitive and selective manner. Despite significant advancements, it remains a critical challenge to ensure high sensitivity and selectivity, while achieving uniform signal enhancement and high reproducibility for quantitative detection of targeted biomarkers within a complex stem cell microenvironment.

Read more ...

Nondestructive Characterization of Stem Cell Neurogenesis by a Magneto-Plasmonic Nanomaterial-Based Exosomal miRNA Detection

KiBum Article Pic Nondestructive Characterization of Stem CelltifThe full realization of stem cell-based treatments for neurodegenerative diseases requires precise control and characterization of stem cell fate. Recently, exosomes and their inner contents have been discovered to play critical roles in cell-cell interactions and intrinsic cellular regulations and have received wide attention as next-generation biomarkers. Moreover, exosomal microRNAs (miRNA) also offer an essential avenue for nondestructive molecular analyses of cell cytoplasm components.

Read more ...

New Technique Could Help Engineer Polluted Water Filter, Human Tissues

Rutgers-led team’s protein patterns look like flowers, trees, snowflakes

July 23, 2019

FractalsNature Chemistry Cover nv 1Scientists can turn proteins into never-ending patterns that look like flowers, trees or snowflakes, a technique that could help engineer a filter for tainted water and human tissues.

Their study, led by researchers at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, appears in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Read more ...

Winning Teams Design Systems to Convert Carbon Dioxide into Something Sweet

Congratulations Karin U. D. Calvinho and Anders Laursen on winning the initial phase of Nasa’s CO2 Conversion Challenge!  


"The purpose of the challenge is to convert carbon dioxide into glucose in order to eventually create sugar-based fuel, food, medicines, adhesives and other products."

Read more ...

Biosensors: NIR Biosensing of Neurotransmitters in Stem Cell‐Derived Neural Interface Using Advanced Core–Shell Upconversion Nanoparticles

KiBum Article Pic NIR Optical Biosensor for Dopamine DetectionNeurotransmitters, for instance dopamine (DA), are significant endogenous signals in the central nervous system (CNS), as they play vital roles in modulating neurophysiological processes including cognition, emotion, memory, and other behaviors. Therefore, fast, ultra-sensitive, non-destructive and robust detection of neurotransmitters during stem cell differentiation and neuromodulation processes in the CNS would be of paramount importance for gaining an insight into how neural interactions regulate brain functions, developing better molecular diagnostics and therapeutics for neurological disorders. To this end, upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) have recently gained extensive attention as optical biosensors due to their excellent photo-stability, narrow emission bandwidths, as well as high signal to noise ratio, showing great potential in various applications; however, the relatively weak luminescence intensity due to low quantum efficiencies compromises the further development of UCNP-based applications.

Read more ...

Nondestructive Real-Time Monitoring of Enhanced Stem Cell Differentiation Using a Graphene-Au Hybrid Nanoelectrode Array

kibum article4 abf4eStem cells have attracted increasing research interest in the field of regenerative medicine because of their unique ability to differentiate into multiple cell lineages. However, controlling stem cell differentiation efficiently and improving the current destructive characterization methods for monitoring stem cell differentiation are the critical issues.

Read more ...

Overcoming Chemoresistance in Cancer Using Nanotechnology-based Drug Delivery

kibum article 3 000b0Chemoresistance is a major challenge facing the effective treatment of cancers. To overcome resistance to chemotherapy, microRNA (miRNA), which are short (20−22 nucleotides) noncoding RNA molecules, has shown to be an attractive strategy. A growing body of evidence shows that modulation of miRNA levels in cancer can mitigate the development and progression of cancer.  

Read more ...

A Biodegradable Hybrid Inorganic Nanoscaffold for Advanced Stem Cell Therapy

mice d9d52

Considering the intrinsically limited regenerative capability of the central nervous system (CNS) and the complex inhibitory microenvironment of injured spinal cord, developing effective therapeutics for CNS diseases and injuries [e.g., Parkinson disease and spinal cord injury (SCI)] has been challenging. To this end, stem cell therapy can provide a promising solution. Neural stem cells can differentiate into neurons and restore the damaged neuronal circuits. Additionally, stem cells modulate the inhibitory microenvironment at the site of CNS disease and injury through the secretion of trophic factors. Nevertheless, the low survival rate and incomplete differentiation control of stem cells in vivo are critical barriers for the full realization of stem cell therapy potential. As such, there is an urgent need to develop an innovative approach to enhance stem cell transplantation and to control stem cell fate precisely.

Read more ...

Rutgers-led Research Could Revolutionize Nuclear Waste Reprocessing and Save Money

 MolecularTraps2Fig300 f1590Seeking a better way to capture radioactive iodides in spent nuclear reactor fuel, Rutgers–New Brunswick scientists have developed an extremely efficient “molecular trap” that can be recycled and reused.

Read more ...

Computation-guided design of a stimulus-responsive multi-enzyme supramolecular assembly.

Kharehighlight1 The construction of stimulus-responsive supramolecular complexes of metabolic pathway enzymes, inspired by natural multi-enzyme assemblies (metabolons), provides an attractive avenue for efficient and spatio-temporally controllable one-pot biotransformations.

Read more ...