Dr. Prausnitz and his colleagues carry out research on biophysical methods of drug delivery, which employ microneedles, ultrasound, lasers, electric fields, heat, convective forces and other physical means to control the transport of drugs, proteins, genes and vaccines into and within the body.
A major area of focus involves the use of microneedle patches to apply vaccines to the skin in a painless, minimally invasive manner. In collaboration with Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations, Dr. Prausnitzʼs group is advancing microneedles from device design and fabrication through pharmaceutical formulation and pre-clinical animal studies through studies in human subjects. In addition to developing a self-administered influenza vaccine using microneedles, Dr. Prausnitz is translating microneedles technology especially to make vaccination in developing countries more effective.
The Prausnitz group has also developed hollow microneedles for injection into the skin and into the eye in collaboration with Emory University. In the skin, research focuses on insulin administration to human diabetic patients to increase onset of action by targeting insulin delivery to the skin. In the eye, hollow microneedles enable precise targeting of injection to the suprachoroidal space and other intraocular tissues for minimally invasive delivery to treat macular degeneration and other retinal diseases.
Dr. Prausnitz and colleagues also study novel mechanisms to deliver proteins, DNA and other molecules into cells. Cavitation bubble activity generated by ultrasound and by laser-excitation of carbon nanoparticles breaks open a small section of the cell membrane and thereby enables entry of molecules, which is useful for gene-based therapies and targeted drug delivery.
In addition to research activities, Dr. Prausnitz teaches an introductory course on engineering calculations, as well as two advanced courses on pharmaceuticals and technical communication, both of which he developed. He also serves the broader scientific and business communities as a frequent consultant, advisory board member and expert witness.
Dr. Prausnitz is the J. Erskine Love Chair in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the director of the Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery.
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