The advent of nanoparticle-based delivery systems has made a significant impact on clinical patient outcomes. In recent decades, myriad nanoparticle-based therapeutic agents have been developed for the treatment and management of ailments such as cancer, diabetes, pain, bacterial infections, and asthma, among many others. Nanotherapeutics offer many distinct advantages over conventional free drug formulations. For example, nanoparticles are able to accumulate at tumor sites by extravasation through leaky vasculature at tumor sites via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect; nanoparticles can also be tailored to have desirable characteristics, such as prolonged circulation in the blood stream, improved drug encapsulation, and sustained or triggered drug release. Currently, a growing number of nanoformulations with favorable pharmacological profiles and promising efficacy are being used in clinical trials for the treatment of various cancers. Building on the success of these encouraging clinical results, new engineering strategies have emerged that combine synthetic nanoparticles with natural biomaterials to create nature-inspired biomimetic delivery systems.
The work presented in this dissertation focuses on the biointerfacing between synthetic and natural materials, namely in the manifestation of cell membrane-coated nanoparticles. By exploiting the natural functionalities of source cell membranes, cell membrane-cloaked nanoparticles have huge potential in the delivery of therapeutic agents for a variety of applications. The first portion of this thesis will focus on understanding the fundamentals underlying cell membrane coating on synthetic nanoparticles. First introduced in 2011, cell membrane-cloaked nanoparticles showed immediate promise in drug delivery applications, but further understanding was necessary to be able to harness the full potential of the membrane coating platform. The first section provides further insight into the interfacial interactions between membranes and synthetic nanoparticles, and how the membrane coating technique faithfully translates the complexities of natural cellular membranes to the nanoscale. The following three sections explore potential therapeutic applications of membrane-coated nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery, biodetoxification, and immunomodulation. Ultimately, cell membrane-cloaked nanoparticles have the potential to significantly change the landscape of nanomedicine. The novel applications presented in this thesis are just a few of many examples currently being researched, with countless more avenues waiting to be explored.