Mitali Kakran, Singapore Finalist
Mitali studied for her BEng at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and graduated with First Class Honors from the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, majoring in Bioengineering in 2008. She started her PhD in August 2008 at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her current research interests include fabrication of micro- and nanoparticles for pharmaceutical applications, with the main aim of enhancing the bioavailability of the drugs by improving their aqueous dissolution rate or by targeted delivery of the drug compounds. Recently she is also working on carbon nanomaterials for loading and delivery of poorly water soluble drugs.
Graphene - the new wonder material!
Graphene is a one atom thick two-dimensional nanomaterial made of carbon and has attracted tremendous attention recently. Because of its extraordinary and unique electrical, mechanical and thermal properties, graphene has revealed very promising applications in a variety of fields such as electronics, DNA sequencing, optics, etc. It is also being used in biomedicine, for example in gene and drug delivery, owing to its ability to traverse the plasma membrane, hence promote the cellular uptake of small molecules and macromolecules.
Graphene oxide, a derivative of graphene, has the advantage of being well-dispersed in water and physiological environments due to abundant hydrophilic groups, such as hydroxyl, epoxy and carboxylic groups on its large surface. In Mitali's study, graphene oxide is functionalised with hydrophilic and biocompatible carriers to aid in loading and delivery of poorly water-soluble drugs. It has proven itself to be a promising new material for biological and medical applications because of its biocompatibility, unique conjugated structure, and relatively low cost.