Profile: Scientist, University Health Network
Department: Surgery, University of Toronto
The field of nanomedicine has exploded in the last ten years, but its translation to clinical practice has been hampered by one large problem: the liver. Nanoparticles are engineered, inorganic structures that range from 1-100nm in size. They have unique physical properties and can be made to destroy cancer cells or change the function of immune cells. However, the huge majority of nanoparticles injected into the bloodstream are sequestered in the liver, often far from the diseased tissue that they are intended to target. Where they go within the liver, and how and whether they change liver cell function, is very poorly understood. Dr. McGilvray is now applying the knowledge and techniques developed by his work in liver damage to understanding how nanoparticles interact with the liver. With this understanding we can develop means of bypassing the liver – and thus increasing the ability of nanoparticles to target distant diseased tissues – and of targeting the liver specifically. In the latter instance, Dr. McGilvray’s laboratory is working on using nanoparticles to “reprogram” livers to improve their function post transplantation. This work has already garnered support from the CIHR, donors supporting PMH, and transplantation-specific grants.