Cellular Mechanism of Disease, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Our laboratory focuses primarily on the development of ligand-targeted imaging and therapeutic agents for the diagnosis and treatment of important human diseases. First, we are designing, synthesizing and testing targeting ligands for their abilities to deliver attached drugs specifically to pathologic cells, avoiding unwanted uptake by healthy cells. Because a receptor for the ligand, folic acid, is significantly over-expressed on many human cancers, we are attaching folate to already established drugs to facilitate their selective accumulation in malignant tissues. Folate-targeted drugs tested to date include: i) radioimaging agents, ii) chemotherapeutic drugs, iii) gene therapy constructs, iv) nanomedicines, v) protein toxins, vi) radiotherapeutic complexes, vii) MRI contrast agents, viii) therapeutic oligonucleotides, and ix) optical imaging agents for fluorescence-guided surgery of cancer. Another major focus of our lab has been to develop novel targeting ligands for diseased cells that do not express folate receptors. Finally, we are investigating the function and molecular organization of the human red blood cell membrane.