This drug delivery system, self-assembled from a few atomic-thin 2D/3D nanomaterials that can be biodegraded under physiological stimuli, reduces adverse neuroinflammatory activities, and protects axons at the injured neural tissues, according to a study in the journal Advanced Materials.

Typically, neuroinflammation has been considered a major inhibitory factor during recovery after central nervous system (CNS) diseases and injuries. As a result, some effective immunomodulatory approaches have shown great potential for regenerative treatment of neurological disorders such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. However, global immunosuppression used in the clinical treatment of neurological disorders can lead to a variety of adverse side effects and increased risks of infection.

“A major goal is to achieve spatiotemporal controlled suppression of neuroinflammation and effectively restore a healthy microenvironment at sites of neurological disorders,” said senior author Ki-Bum Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. “Our system, which took four years to develop, has shown enormous potential for smart drug delivery for better treatment of neurological disorders.”

The team’s unique in vivo drug delivery system is built upon ultrathin nanomaterials, sugar polymers, and neural proteins. This system, capable of locally releasing a clinically relevant anti-inflammatory molecule (methylprednisolone), can create a favorable microenvironment to promote tissue repair and functional recovery after neurological injury.

The team believes the technology can advance a range of treatment applications. By developing innovative, multifunctional, and reliable in vivo drug delivery systems, Lee’s group ( aims to improve the treatment of neurological disorders through designing biomaterials that can effectively modulate neuroinhibitory signaling.

Therefore, their developed nanobiomaterial-based therapeutic intervention may pave a new road for treating not only CNS injuries but also other diseases, since inflammation generally is associated with a variety of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

This study will be featured as the inside back cover of Issue 40/2020 of Advanced Materials and highlighted by news sources, including Rutgers Today. The study’s co-lead authors are Dr. Letao Yang and Brian M. Conley, researchers in Prof. Ki-Bum Lee’s group (Rutgers), and Dr. Susana R. Cerqueira, a postdoc researcher in Prof. Jae K. Lee’s group (University of Miami).

Featured as inside front cover in the journal Advanced Materials. (DOI:

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Group Members

Ki Bum Lee Ph 
             KiBum Lee, Ph.D.

Letao Yang Ph
            Letao Yang, Ph.D.

Brian Connely
              Brian M. Conley