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Justin Hanes

Kelly E. Dooley

Department Affiliation: Primary: Ophthalmology;
Secondary:  Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences;
Joint:  Biomedical Engineering, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Neurosurgery, and Oncology
Degree: Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rank: Professor and Director of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute
Telephone Number: 443-287-7921
Fax Number: None
E-mail address:
School of Medicine Address: Robert H. and Clarice Smith Bldg., 6th Floor, 400 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231

Nanotechnology for Drug and Nucleic Acid Delivery

The Hanes lab is focused on the development of advanced delivery systems to make drugs, vaccines, and nucleic acid based therapies more effective.  A focus of our research is to develop the fundamental and applied knowledge needed to create biomaterial-based nanoparticles that overcome long-standing biological barriers and, thereby, enhance the efficiency of drug and nucleic acid delivery to specific sites in the body. To guide our development of improved drug carrier systems, we use state-of-the-art biophysical tools, including high-resolution particle tracking techniques, to quantify the nanoscopic movements of thousands of individual polymeric drug and gene nanocarriers in complex biological environments, especially in tissues such as the brain, extracellular barriers such as mucus gels, and inside live cells.  Our lab has used new insights from our fundamental work to develop technologies that have led to the launch of companies that are developing products for humans.  One example is the discovery of methods to make nanoparticles that rapidly penetrate human mucus barriers, which has led to new research into the development of nanoparticle-based drugs or nucleic acid therapies to prevent or treat diseases or conditions such as ocular inflammation, cystic fibrosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, lung and cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and more.  Another example is the discovery of methods to produce biodegradable polymers that contain anti-angiogenic drugs built into the polymeric backbone; these systems are now being developed in industry to treat cancer and ocular diseases like age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.


Representative Publications:

  • Chan KWY, Liu G, Song X, Kim H, Yu T, Arifin DR, Gilad AA, Hanes J, Walczak P, van Zijl PCM, JWM Bulte, MT McMahon. In vivo sensing of transplanted cell viability using microcapsules and MRI detectable pH nanosensors. Nature Mater. 12(3):268-275, 2013.  Pub Med Reference
  • Welsbie DS, Yang Z, Ge Y, Mitchell KL, Zhou X, Martin SE, Berlinicke CA, Hackler L, Fuller J, Fu J, Cao, LH, Han B, Auld D, Xue T, Hirai SI, Germain L, Simard-Bisson C, Blouin R, Nguyen JV, Davis CO, Enke RA, Boye SL, Merbs SL, Marsh-Armstrong N, Hauswirth WW, DiAntonio A, Nickells RW, Inglese J, Hanes J, Yau KW, Quigley HA, Zack DJ. Functional genomic screening identifies dual leucine zipper kinase as a key mediator of retinal ganglion cell death. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110(10):4045-4050, 2013. Pub Med Reference
  • Kim AJ, Boylan NJ, Hwangbo M, Suk JS, Yu T, Cebotaru L, Lesniak WG, Oh JS, Adstamongkonkul P, Choi AY, Kannan RM, Hanes J. Use of Single-Site Functionalized PEG-Dendrons to Prepare Gene Vectors that Penetrate Human Mucus Barriers. Angew Chem. Int. Ed., 52:3985-3988, 2013. Pub Med Reference
  • Ensign LM, Tang BC, Wang Y-Y, Tse TA, Hoen T, Cone R, Hanes J.  Mucus-penetrating particles for vaginal drug delivery protect against HSV-2. Science Transl. Med. 4(138):138ra79, 2012. Pub Med Reference
  • Nance E, Woodworth GF, Sailor KA, Shih T-Y, Swaminathan G, Xiang D, Eberhart C, Hanes J. Polymeric nanoparticles that penetrate brain tissue reveal larger-than-expected openings in extracellular space. Science Transl. Med. 4:149ra119, 2012. Pub Med Reference
  • Ensign LM, Schneider C, Suk JS, Cone R, Hanes J. Mucus penetrating nanoparticles: Biophysical tool and method of drug and gene delivery.  Adv. Mater. 24:3887-3894, 2012.  Pub Med Reference
  • Suk JS, Boylan NJ, Trehan K, Tang BC, Schneider C, Lin G, Boyle MP, Zeitlin PL, Lai SK, Hanes J. N-acetylcysteine Enhances Cystic Fibrosis Sputum Penetration and Airway Gene Transfer by DNA Nanoparticles.  Molec. Ther. 19:1981-1989, 2011. Pub Med Reference
  • Yang M, Lai SK, Wang Y-Y, Zhong W, Happe C, Zhang M, Fu J, Hanes J. Biodegradable nanoparticles composed entirely of safe materials that rapidly penetrate human mucus. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 50:2597-2600, 2011.   Pub Med Reference       
  • Lai SK, Wang YY, Hida K, Cone R, Hanes J. Nanoparticles reveal that human cervicovaginal mucus is riddled with pores larger than viruses. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107:598–603, 2010. Pub Med Reference
  • Tang BC, Dawson M, Lai SK, Wang Y-Y, Suk JS, Yang M, Zeitlin P, Boyle MP, Fu J, Hanes J. Biodegradable polymer nanoparticles that rapidly penetrate the human mucus barrier. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:19268–19273, 2009. Pub Med Reference
  • Wang YY, Lai SK, Suk JS, Pace A, Cone R, Hanes J. Addressing the PEG Muco-adhesivity paradox to engineer nanoparticles that “slip” through the human mucus barrier. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 47(50):9726-9729, 2008.  Pub Med Reference
  • Lai SK, O'Hanlon ED, Harrold S, Man ST, Wang YY, Cone R, Hanes J. Rapid transport of large polymeric nanoparticles in fresh undiluted human mucus.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA  104:1482-1487, 2007. Pub Med Reference
  • Sakhalkar HS, Dalal MK, Salem AK, Ansari R, Fu J, Kiani MF, Kurjiaka DT, Hanes J, Shakesheff KM, Goetz DJ.  Leukocyte inspired biodegradable particles that selectively and avidly adhere to inflamed endothelium in vitro and in vivo. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:15895-15900, 2003.  Pub Med Reference
  • Suh J, Wirtz D., Hanes J.  Efficient Active Transport of Gene Nanocarriers to the Cell Nucleus.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:3878-3882, 2003.   Pub Med Reference
  • Edwards DA, Hanes J, Caponetti G, Hrkach J, Ben-Jebria A, Eskew ML, Mintzes J, Deaver D, Lotan N, Langer R. Large porous particles for pulmonary drug delivery. Science 276:1868-1871, 1997.  Pub Med Reference

Other graduate programs in which Dr. Hanes participates:

Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Biomedical Engineering