Nanosensors to Accelerate Cancer Research and Drug Discovery

Nanosensors to Accelerate Cancer Research and Drug Discovery


Heller Lab Enzyme Sensor

We are designing novel probes and sensors to accelerate scientific discoveries and drug development. New technologies that unlock measurements of a biological process or analyte enable new biology to be found. And drug development often begins with a probe or assay that allows researchers to rapidly screen for drug molecules that produce a therapeutic effect. We are developing sensors that monitor biochemical processes within live cells and tissues.  Recent works include optical sensors for the detection of lipids within the lysosomes of live cells and living organisms and a sensor for the detection of a specific enzymatic deactivation mechanism. Using optical nanosensors as research and screening tools enables us to ask unprecedented questions, discover new disease mechanisms, and accelerate biomedical discoveries.


Nano-Sensors Taste Fat in Live Cells

The Inner Light: Nanotechnology Reveals Density of Tumors


RM Williams, S Chen, RE Langenbacher, TV Galassi, JD Harvey, PV Jena, J Budhathoki-Uprety*, M Luo*, DA Heller*. “Harnessing Nanotechnology to Expand the Toolbox of Chemical Biology” Nature Chemical Biology 17 (2021) 129-137. PMID: 33414556

Z Yaari, JM Cheung, HA Baker, RS Frederiksen, PV Jena, F Jiao, S Scheuring, M Luo, DA Heller*. “Nanoreporter of an Enzymatic Suicide Inactivation Pathway” Nano Letters 20 (2020) 7819-7829.  PMID: 33119310

TV Galassi, PV Jena, J Shah, G Ao, E Molitor, Y Bram, A Frankel, J Park, J Jessurun, DS Ory, A Haimovitz-Friedman, D Roxbury, J Mittal, M Zheng, R E Schwartz, DA Heller*. “An Optical Nanoreporter of Endolysosomal Lipid Accumulation Reveals Enduring Effects of Diet on Hepatic Macrophages In Vivo.” Science Translational Medicine 10 (2018) eaar2680.

Jena PV, Roxbury D, Galassi TV, Akkari L, Horoszko CP, Iaea DB, Budhathoki-Uprety J, Pipalia N, Haka AS, Harvey JD, Mittal J, Maxfield FR, Joyce JA, Heller DA. A Carbon Nanotube Optical Reporter Maps Endolysosomal Lipid Flux. ACS Nano. 2017 Sep 12. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b04743. [Epub ahead of print]

J Budhathoki-Uprety, RE Langenbacher, PV Jena, D Roxbury, DA Heller*: “A Carbon Nanotube Optical Sensor Reports Nuclear Entry via a Noncanonical Pathway.” ACS Nano 11 (2017) 3875-3882.

PV Jena, Y Shamay, J Shah, D Roxbury, N Paknejad, DA Heller*: “Photoluminescent Carbon Nanotubes Interrogate the Permeability of Multicellular Tumor Spheroids.” Carbon 97 (2016) 99-109.

D Roxbury, PV Jena, Y Shamay, CP Horoszko, DA Heller*: “Cell Membrane Proteins Modulate the Carbon Nanotube Optical Bandgap via Surface Charge Accumulation.” ACS Nano 10 (2016) 499-506.