Dr. Anthony McGoron is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Engineering and Computing. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and post-doctoral training in the Department of Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Before Joining FIU he was as Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Radiology, Divisions of Nuclear Medicine and Medical Physics. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He served as Interim Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2007-2010. He was National President to the Alpha Eta Mu Beta Biomedical Engineering Honor Society 2010-2014. He has over 200 journal articles, book chapters and proceeding papers. He has received funding from the NIH, NSF, DOD, AHA, and Fl-DOH as well as numerous companies.
Drug delivery research may involve the design of new drugs, or developing strategies to monitor and improve drug transport to target tissue. The primary research focus in this lab is the development of tissue or cell specific contrast agents and probes (both optical and radioactive) for noninvasive molecular imaging of cellular and tissue characterization, for monitoring toxicity, for tracking the biodistribution of known toxins and drugs, and image guided therapy. Another focus is the development of multimodal drugs that simultaneously image and provide therapy. Of primary concern as new drugs are developed is that these drugs be specific in terms of their mechanism and site of action. Verifying that the drug has reached their target is an important component of therapy.
Molecular Imaging allows visualization of not only organs and cells but also biochemical processes within the cells that are associated with specific disease. This information can improve the accuracy of a diagnosis, provide better assessment of the severity of disease and even monitor the response to therapy. Light at the near-infrared wavelength can penetrate deeper into tissue than can visible light and does not induce DNA damage. Therefore, true in vivo imaging is practical with near-infrared probes. Dyes that absorb energy in the near-infrared region will release heat following exposure to the appropriate wavelength and can kill cancer cells. Therefore, by including such dyes with the chemotherapy agent or incorporating the dye into the drug delivery vehicle, therapy can be targeted since the drug will not be activated until it has reached its intended target. The therapy is image guided because the probe/therapeutic drug can be detected in vivo. Compared to optical imaging, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has the advantage of greater resolution and greatly reduced attenuation and scattering. In addition, the radiolabeling of drugs or biochemically important molecules with PET isotopes is much simpler, and typically results in chemicals with similar or identical properties to the original chemical. Such imaging approaches have been applied to understand the molecular basis of diseases, biochemical processes, gene delivery and expression, tissue receptor-ligand activity, enzyme mediated processes, drug discovery, monitoring novel therapy techniques, etc.
Particles in a size range of 110-140 nm seem to be ideal drug delivery vehicles because they first avoid liver uptake, which filters smaller particles, but are small enough not to be removed by macrophages. For optimal performance, particles should have a small size distribution, uniform surface properties, must be able to complex various molecules very efficiently, must remain in the circulation long enough to be removed by the target tissue rather than the reticuloendothelial system (macrophages), and must be biocompatible and biodegradable. Small particles with neutral surfaces and prepared with polymers of high molecular weights are slowly cleared by macrophages while large particles with high surface potentials and prepared with polymers of low molecular weights are rapidly cleared by the macrophages. Nanoparticles coated with a higher molecular weight dextran or poly-ethylene-glycol (PEG) leads to a decrease of the surface charge, which increases their circulation time. Nanoparticles (polymer or liposomes) can be modified to target specific cells and designed to carry multiple therapeutic agents and multiple imaging probes.