A/Prof. Juliana Hamzah is the Head of Laboratory Targeted Drug Delivery, Imaging and Therapy at the Harry Perkins Institute, and the appointed head of Institute’s Therapeutic Targeting Research Theme. She has over 12 years of research experience in developing targeted delivery technology platforms for imaging and treating diseases including cancer and atherosclerosis. Following the completion of her PhD in 2005, Juliana did her first postdoctoral training at WA Institute of Medical Research (2006-2009) on developing therapies against cancer angiogenesis. She was then recruited to join the Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, California, USA, under the prestigious American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship (2009-2012). She was competitively selected and trained under NIH/NCI sponsored program to perform in vivo imaging of therapeutics. Her current research program (since 2014) focuses on identifying diagnostic and therapeutic overlaps between different types of chronic fibro-inflammatory diseases such as cancer, atherosclerotic disease and liver fibrosis.
Clinical detection of pathological tissues in patients with life-threatening diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD) relies on in vivo imaging technologies. These technologies are useful to track down and image the anatomy of diseased tissues, and provide crucial information on the disease stage and subtypes for treatment planning. However, current in vivo imaging capabilities are still technically limited with respect to spatial and temporal resolution and contrast generation. Currently used diagnostic agents lack specificity and ability to accumulate in the pathological tissues in sufficient quantities for contrast generation.
Toprovide better indication on the developmental stages and biological characteristics of the diseased tissues, contrasts agents and drugs can be tagged with ligands that specifically target the abnormal components of the disease, including blood vessels, inflammatory cells and extracellular matrix (ECM). We have developed several molecular-targeted diagnostic and therapeutic agents that have high binding affinity to pathological tissues. The presentation will focus on advances in the delivery of diagnostics and therapeutics, our ability to track them by in vivo imaging and their clinical applications.