One of the world's leading biomedical engineers and researcher in nanotechnology and cancer detection, Professor Gang Bao of the Georgia Institute of Technology delivered a keynote lecture at the University of Limerick (UL), 29th October 09. Professor Bao lectures were delivered as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series at the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) and were entitled; 'Nanomedicine: Developing Nanotechnology for Medicine 'and 'RNA Detection in Living Cells Using Molecular Beacons'.
Professor Edmond Magner, Director of MSSI welcomed Prof. Bao in saying; "We are delighted to host Prof Bao at MSSI and have him share his experiences with our research faculty. Developments in nanotechnology provide exciting possibilities for medicine and in particular disease detection, treatment and prevention. Prof Bao is leading research that will address some of the most vital medical challenges of our time."
Professor Bao applies nanotechnology to the tiny world of genes and proteins, working to make the world a healthier place one nanoparticle at a time. His research programme includes developing method to detect cancer cells, cardiovascular disease and most recently he is working on a new method of detecting pancreatic cancer.
A Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, Bao uses molecular beacons, nano-sized biomarkers that seek out certain disease-indicating genes and glow when they find them, to create new methods for early disease detection, imaging and drug delivery. These beacons can be used to detect disease in its earliest stages and give doctors a much better understanding of how genes contribute to illness. Because the dots glow with a spectrum of bright, fluorescent colors, it is hoped they will improve the sensitivity of diagnostic tests for molecules that are difficult to detect, such as those in cancer cells.
A Georgia Tech and Emory University research group lead by Prof. Bao was recently awarded million to establish a new program focused on creating advanced nanotechnologies to analyze plaque formation on the molecular level and detect plaque at its early stages. The group will study ways to use molecular beacons and other nano-sized markers to predict and study cardiovascular disease by detecting minute amounts of plaque along artery walls and even cells that may eventually foster plaque buildup. The ability to detect, localize, quantify and monitor the expression of specific genes in living cells in real-time has the potential to offer unprecedented opportunities for advancement in molecular biology and medicine. Many of the current research projects of the laboratory team lead by Prof Bao's Lab are focused on RNA detection in vivo as related to important biological questions, such as the dynamics of gene expression, RNA transport, localization and co-localization, RNA-protein interactions, and RNA stability. On-going research also includes in vivo targeting of cell-surface receptors using magnetic nanoparticles, and tagging/targeting of proteins in living cells using quantum-dot based probes. These approaches are being applied to the detection, analysis and diagnosis of cancer, atherosclerosis, and viral infection.