Professor Kane’s group conducts research at the interface of biotechnology and nanotechnology. The group is designing nanoscale polyvalent therapeutics and working on the molecular engineering of biosurfaces and nanostructures.
A major focus of the group’s research involves the design of polyvalent ligands, i.e., nanoscale scaffolds presenting multiple copies of selected biomolecules. The Kane group has made seminal contributions to a fundamental understanding of polyvalent recognition and has designed polyvalent inhibitors that are effective in vivo. Currently, the group is designing polyvalent molecules that control stem cell fate as well as polyvalent inhibitors of pathogens such as HIV and influenza. The group is also designing nanoscale scaffolds for antigen presentation as part of novel strategies for designing vaccines. The approach could lead to the development of “universal” influenza vaccines as well as effective vaccines targeting RSV and malaria. Other interests of the group involve optogenetics – the development and application of methods that use light to control cell function – as well as the design of enzymes and nanocomposites that target antibiotic-resistant pathogens.