My research is in the area of material science, electrochemistry, and bioengineering. I previously studied on encapsulated enzymes inside bio-inspired peptide nanotubes and their biosensor applications and designed nano/micro-structured and electrochemically tunable surfaces to understand cell behaviors. I am currently working on developing autonomous Bio-hybrid nano/microbots. I am interested in using Bio-hybrid microbots to design artificial intelligent systems with coordinated behaviors.
hD: Chemical Engineering, University of Toledo, OH, USA, 2012
MS: Chemical Engineering, Kwangwoon University, Seoul, South Korea, 2005
BS: Chemical Engineering, Kwangwoon University, Seoul, South Korea, 2003
Cancer cells have the capacity to synthesize nanoparticles (NPs). The detailed mechanism of this process is not very well documented. We report the mechanism of biomineralization of aqueous gold chloride into NPs and microplates in the breast-cancer cell line MCF7. Spherical gold NPs are synthesized in these cells in the presence of serum in the culture media by the reduction of HAuCl4. In the absence of serum, the cells exhibit gold microplate formation through seed-mediate growth albeit slower reduction. The structural characteristics of the two types of NPs under different media conditions were confirmed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM); crystallinity and metallic properties were assessed with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Gold-reducing proteins, related to cell stress initiate the biomineralization of HAuCl4 in cells (under serum free conditions) as confirmed by infrared (IR) spectroscopy. MCF7 cells undergo irreversible replicative senescence when exposed to a high concentration of ionic gold and conversely remain in a dormant reversible quiescent state when exposed to a low gold concentration. The latter cellular state was achievable in the presence of the rho/ROCK inhibitor Y-27632. Proteomic analysis revealed consistent expression of specific proteins under serum and serum-free conditions. A high-throughput proteomic approach to screen gold-reducing proteins and peptide sequences was utilized and validated by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D). Statement of significance Cancer cells are known to synthesize gold nanoparticles and microstructures, which are promising for bioimaging and other therapeutic applications. However, the detailed mechanism of such biomineralization process is not well understood yet. Herein, we demonstrate that cancer cells exposed to gold ions (grown in serum/serum-free conditions) secrete shock and stress-related proteins with specific gold-binding/reducing polypeptides. Cells undergo reversible senescence and can recover normal physiology when treated with the senescence inhibitor depending on culture condition. The use of mammalian cells as microincubators for synthesis of such particles could have potential influence on their uptake and biocompatibility. This study has important implications for in-situ reduction of ionic gold to anisotropic micro-nanostructures that could be used in-vivo clinical applications and tumor photothermal therapy.
Advanced Functional Materials, 28(5):1704902, January 2018 (article)
Abstract Light‐driven microswimmers have garnered attention for their potential use in various applications, such as environmental remediation, hydrogen evolution, and targeted drug delivery. Janus hollow mesoporous TiO2/Au (JHP–TiO2–Au) microswimmers with enhanced swimming speeds under low‐intensity ultraviolet (UV) light are presented. The swimmers show enhanced swimming speeds both in presence and absence of H2O2. The microswimmers move due to self‐electrophoresis when UV light is incident on them. There is a threefold increase in speed of JHP–TiO2–Au microswimmers in comparison with Janus solid TiO2/Au (JS–TiO2–Au) microswimmers. This increase in their speed is due to the increase in surface area of the porous swimmers and their hollow structure. These microswimmers are also made steerable by using a thin Co magnetic layer. They can be used in potential environmental applications for active photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue and targeted active drug delivery of an anticancer drug (doxurobicin) in vitro in H2O2 solution. Their increased speed from the presence of a hollow mesoporous structure is beneficial for future potential applications, such as hydrogen evolution, selective heterogeneous photocatalysis, and targeted cargo delivery.
ACS Nano, 11(9):8910-8923, September 2017, PMID: 28873304 (article)
High-performance, multifunctional bacteria-driven microswimmers are introduced using an optimized design and fabrication method for targeted drug delivery applications. These microswimmers are made of mostly single Escherichia coli bacterium attached to the surface of drug-loaded polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) microparticles with embedded magnetic nanoparticles. The PEM drug carriers are 1 μm in diameter and are intentionally fabricated with a more viscoelastic material than the particles previously studied in the literature. The resulting stochastic microswimmers are able to swim at mean speeds of up to 22.5 μm/s. They can be guided and targeted to specific cells, because they exhibit biased and directional motion under a chemoattractant gradient and a magnetic field, respectively. Moreover, we demonstrate the microswimmers delivering doxorubicin anticancer drug molecules, encapsulated in the polyelectrolyte multilayers, to 4T1 breast cancer cells under magnetic guidance in vitro. The results reveal the feasibility of using these active multifunctional bacteria-driven microswimmers to perform targeted drug delivery with significantly enhanced drug transfer, when compared with the passive PEM microparticles.
ACS Nano, 0(0):null, September 2017, PMID: 28933815 (article)
Biofilm colonies are typically resistant to general antibiotic treatment and require targeted methods for their removal. One of these methods includes the use of nanoparticles as carriers for antibiotic delivery, where they randomly circulate in fluid until they make contact with the infected areas. However, the required proximity of the particles to the biofilm results in only moderate efficacy. We demonstrate here that the nonpathogenic magnetotactic bacteria Magnetosopirrillum gryphiswalense (MSR-1) can be integrated with drug-loaded mesoporous silica microtubes to build controllable microswimmers (biohybrids) capable of antibiotic delivery to target an infectious biofilm. Applying external magnetic guidance capability and swimming power of the MSR-1 cells, the biohybrids are directed to and forcefully pushed into matured Escherichia coli (E. coli) biofilms. Release of the antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, is triggered by the acidic microenvironment of the biofilm, ensuring an efficient drug delivery system. The results reveal the capabilities of a nonpathogenic bacteria species to target and dismantle harmful biofilms, indicating biohybrid systems have great potential for antibiofilm applications.
Advanced Science, 4(9):1700109, May 2017 (article)
Despite the large body of experimental work recently on biohybrid microsystems, few studies have focused on theoretical modeling of such systems, which is essential to understand their underlying functioning mechanisms and hence design them optimally for a given application task. Therefore, this study focuses on developing a mathematical model to describe the 3D motion and chemotaxis of a type of widely studied biohybrid microswimmer, where spherical microbeads are driven by multiple attached bacteria. The model is developed based on the biophysical observations of the experimental system and is validated by comparing the model simulation with experimental 3D swimming trajectories and other motility characteristics, including mean squared displacement, speed, diffusivity, and turn angle. The chemotaxis modeling results of the microswimmers also agree well with the experiments, where a collective chemotactic behavior among multiple bacteria is observed. The simulation result implies that such collective chemotaxis behavior is due to a synchronized signaling pathway across the bacteria attached to the same microswimmer. Furthermore, the dependencies of the motility and chemotaxis of the microswimmers on certain system parameters, such as the chemoattractant concentration gradient, swimmer body size, and number of attached bacteria, toward an optimized design of such biohybrid system are studied. The optimized microswimmers would be used in targeted cargo, e.g., drug, imaging agent, gene, and RNA, transport and delivery inside the stagnant or low-velocity fluids of the human body as one of their potential biomedical applications.
PloS One, 12(4):e0175428, Public Library of Science, April 2017 (article)
The considerable morbidity associated with hospitalized patients and clinics in developed countries due to biofilm formation on biomedical implants and surgical instruments is a heavy economic burden. An alternative to chemically treated surfaces for bactericidal activity started emerging from micro/nanoscale topographical cues in the last decade. Here, we demonstrate a putative antibacterial surface using copper nanowhiskers deposited by molecular beam epitaxy. Furthermore, the control of biological response is based on hydrophobic pinning of water droplets in the Wenzel regime, causing mechanical injury and cell death. Scanning electron microscopy images revealed the details of the surface morphology and non-contact mode laser scanning of the surface revealed the microtopography-associated quantitative parameters. Introducing the bacterial culture over nanowhiskers produces mechanical injury to cells, leading to a reduction in cell density over time due to local pinning of culture medium to whisker surfaces. Extended culture to 72 hours to observe biofilm formation revealed biofilm inhibition with scattered microcolonies and significantly reduced biovolume on nanowhiskers. Therefore, surfaces patterned with copper nanowhiskers can serve as potential antibiofilm surfaces. The topography-based antibacterial surfaces introduce a novel prospect in developing mechanoresponsive nanobiomaterials to reduce the risk of medical device biofilm-associated infections, contrary to chemical leaching of copper as a traditional bactericidal agent.
Bacteria biohybrids employ the motility and power of swimming bacteria to carry and maneuver microscale particles. They have the potential to perform microdrug and cargo delivery in vivo, but have been limited by poor design, reduced swimming capabilities, and impeded functionality. To address these challenge, motile Escherichia coli are captured inside electropolymerized microtubes, exhibiting the first report of a bacteria microswimmer that does not utilize a spherical particle chassis. Single bacterium becomes partially trapped within the tube and becomes a bioengine to push the microtube though biological media. Microtubes are modified with “smart” material properties for motion control, including a bacteria-attractant polydopamine inner layer, addition of magnetic components for external guidance, and a biochemical kill trigger to cease bacterium swimming on demand. Swimming dynamics of the bacteria biohybrid are quantified by comparing “length of protrusion” of bacteria from the microtubes with respect to changes in angular autocorrelation and swimmer mean squared displacement. The multifunctional microtubular swimmers present a new generation of biocompatible micromotors toward future microbiorobots and minimally invasive medical applications.
Biohybrid cell-driven microsystems offer unparalleled possibilities for realization of soft microrobots at the micron scale. Here, we introduce a bacteria-driven microswimmer that combines the active locomotion and sensing capabilities of bacteria with the desirable encapsulation and viscoelastic properties of a soft double-micelle microemulsion for active transport and delivery of cargo (e.g., imaging agents, genes, and drugs) to living cells. Quasi-monodisperse double emulsions were synthesized with an aqueous core that encapsulated the fluorescence imaging agents, as a proof-of-concept cargo in this study, and an outer oil shell that was functionalized with streptavidin for specific and stable attachment of biotin-conjugated Escherichia coli. Motile bacteria effectively propelled the soft microswimmers across a Transwell membrane, actively delivering imaging agents (i.e., dyes) encapsulated inside of the micelles to a monolayer of cultured MCF7 breast cancer and J744A.1 macrophage cells, which enabled real-time, live-cell imaging of cell organelles, namely mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi body. This in vitro model demonstrates the proof-of-concept feasibility of the proposed soft microswimmers and offers promise for potential biomedical applications in active and/or targeted transport and delivery of imaging agents, drugs, stem cells, siRNA, and therapeutic genes to live tissue in in vitro disease models (e.g., organ-on-a-chip devices) and stagnant or low-flow-velocity fluidic regions of the human body.
Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 106, pages: 27-44, Elsevier, November 2016 (article)
The use of bacterial cells as agents of medical therapy has a long history. Research that was ignited over a century ago with the accidental infection of cancer patients has matured into a platform technology that offers the promise of opening up new potential frontiers in medical treatment. Bacterial cells exhibit unique characteristics that make them well-suited as smart drug delivery agents. Our ability to genetically manipulate the molecular machinery of these cells enables the customization of their therapeutic action as well as its precise tuning and spatio-temporal control, allowing for the design of unique, complex therapeutic functions, unmatched by current drug delivery systems. Early results have been promising, but there are still many important challenges that must be addressed. We present a review of promises and challenges of employing bioengineered bacteria in drug delivery systems and introduce the biohybrid design concept as a new additional paradigm in bacteria-based drug delivery.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems