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The Sletten Group takes advantage of the orthogonality of fluorinated compounds to engineer new smart, personalizable nanotherapeutics. Our lab takes a two-pronged approach, focusing on both fluorous delivery vehicles and the synthesis of fluorous-soluble payloads. Towards the former, we develop new polymers to stabilize, target, and release the fluorous payloads in vivo. Simultaneously, we synthesize novel fluorous-soluble payloads, including fluorophores, photosensitizers, and pharmaceuticals. These advances are then brought together to result in a modular platform for nanotherapeutics, allowing for stimuli-responsive treatment modalities to endogenous and exogenous triggers.
Shortwave Infrared Diagnostics
Fluorescence imaging is a safe, cost-effective imaging modality that enables real-time tracking but has not been readily employed in the clinic due to the poor penetration of light through tissue and high background signal from endogenous chromophores. These limitations can be addressed by utilizing the shortwave infrared region (SWIR or NIR-II, 1000-2000 nm) of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, there is a lack of commercially available imaging agents for this region. Our group works on developing small molecule fluorophores for the SWIR by employing a polymethine scaffold. Through synthetic modifications, photophysical characterization, and biological applications, we aim to employ these fluorophores for the next generation of optical imaging.
Host Guest Chemistry
We are interested in repurposing macrocyclic host molecules for applications in biology by designing novel functional guests. Simultaneously, we are using computation to guide the design and synthesis of new host-guest systems. As we explore the thermodynamic challenges associated with host-guest chemistry, we seek to use highly specific non-covalent interactions enabled by host-guest systems for the detection and treatment of disease.