Mark H. Schoenfisch, Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Designing functional in vivo biosensors for real-time monitoring of glucose remains a significant challenge. Such devices are plagued by poor performance due to the inflammatory response and fibrous capsule that forms around the sensor at the implant site. Biosensors capable of more accurate glucose monitoring both immediately after implantation and over extended durations (weeks instead of days) would greatly enhance the utility of such devices for diabetes management. My research program has focused on the design of more biocompatible glucose sensor membranes that spontaneously release nitric oxide, a mediator of the foreign body response (FBR) and wound healing promotor. Nitric oxide-releasing biosensors with certain NO fluxes and durations have proven useful for mitigating inflammation and the implant-associated FBR. Concomitantly, both wound healing at the sensor insertion site and the in vivo analytical performance of glucose biosensors were shown to benefit greatly. Through this research, we have also established new chemistries (macromolecular systems) for storing and releasing significant quantities of nitric oxide. Based on nitric oxide payloads and multimodal action capable of eradicating bacterial in a manner distinct from common antibiotics, my research program has evolved to include the development of nitric oxide-based therapeutics for diseases exacerbated by bacterial infections, including periodontitis and cystic fibrosis. Future research directions in my lab include the expansion of nitric oxide therapeutics for other indications (e.g., gastrointestinal disorders) and the engineering of new nitric oxide sensing platforms to aid in the clinical diagnosis and/or treatment of diseases (e.g., sepsis, defining tumor resection margins).