UA Little Rock researcher receives nearly $50,000 to study effects of nanomaterials on immune systems

Dr. Kieng Bao Vang-Dings, research assistant professor at the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, received $49,509 from the Center for Advanced Surface Engineering to study the effects of tunable nanosystems on the human immune system.

This study will help scientists understand the immune system’s response to nanosystems –  important knowledge as nanosystems are increasingly used in both medical interventions and everyday products.

Tunable nanosystems are tiny materials (measured between 1 to 100 nanometers) that can be manipulated for use in various science and engineering applications, including cancer treatments, regenerative medicine, and neural stem cell differentiation. With this growing prevalence in mind, Vang-Dings will study how one commonly used nanosystem, gold nanoparticles coated with silver, interacts with the immune system.

“The immune system is the body’s primary defense against pathogenic microorganisms,” Vang-Dings said. “If tunable nanosystems are to be used in biomedical applications, we must fully understand how they can influence the immune system.”

Vang-Dings will collaborate with Dr. Alexandru Biris, director and chief scientist of the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences at UA Little Rock. The research team will use surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to monitor the nanomaterials’ interaction with primary immune cells for seven days. The team will then assess any surface protein or cytokine changes caused by treatment with the nanosystem.

The project was awarded through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s seed grant program, which supports Arkansas researchers in higher education who focus on creating nanomaterials that are useful for various science and engineering applications.

Vang-Dings joined UA Little Rock in 2015. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Minnesota in 2002 and a doctorate in microbiology, immunology, and cancer from the University of Minnesota in 2010.

This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation under award number 1457888. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Contributing Editor Lydia Perry / Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Photo by Benjamin Krain

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