Re-Engineering the Interaction of Ionizing Radiation with Living Tissue


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Re-Engineering the Interaction of Ionizing Radiation with Living Tissue

Ling-Jian Meng
Ling-Jian Meng
Ling-Jian Meng, Associate Professor of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at Illinois, is creating and leading the new Radio-Opto-Nano Working Group at the Beckman Institute of Science and Advanced Technology.

"Here at the Radio-Opto-Nano working group, we work on the interface between radiological sciences, optical techniques and nanomaterials," Meng said. "The central theme of our research is to combine penetrative ionizing radiation and radio-reactive nanomaterials to introduce precisely controlled physical, chemical and biological effects in deep tissue. This allows targeted therapeutic delivery and noninvasive manipulation of cellular, molecular and neural functions in living organisms.”

The Radio-Opto-Nano (RON) working group encompasses multiple research teams led by University of Illinois faculty from diversified backgrounds. The current team members include Meng and Assistant Prof. Yang Zhang from NPRE; Dipanjan Pan, Andrew Smith and Wawosz Dobrucki from Bioengineering (BIOE); Jianjun Cheng from Material Science and Engineering (MatSE); Yi Lu from Chemistry; and Kai Zhang from Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB). 

With this expertise, the team will pursue several critical research objectives, including:

  • Studying the use of penetrative ionizing radiation as a tool to perturb complex organisms, such as cells, molecules and nanomaterials artificially introduced in deep tissue.
  • Developing experimental and theoretical approaches for understanding the cascade of physical, chemical and biological interactions in living tissue.
  • Developing and characterizing radio-reactive nanomaterials that could be used as imaging contrast, therapeutic agent, or deeply-embedded internal light sources that can be turned on and off at precisely controlled temporal and spatial patterns.
  • Developing radiation-induced and nanoparticle-mediated approaches for therapeutic delivery, controlled drug release and noninvasive intervention of cellular, molecular and neural functions in deep tissue.
  • Developing radiological and optical imaging techniques for studying the interactions of ionizing radiation with nanomaterials and for monitoring therapeutic delivery processes.  

“One of the central goals is to pursue a smarter use of ionizing radiation for healthcare applications,” Meng said. “We hope that these interdisciplinary research efforts could help develop future approaches to better utilize ionizing radiation to improve the sensitivity, resolution and specificity in diagnosis imaging, as well as to allow safer and more effective personalized treatment strategies.”

Further details of the BON working group can be found here.

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This story was published May 16, 2017.