By Kara Sweet
Release Date: August 18, 2017
Juliane Nguyen, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is principal investigator on a $1.58 million R01 grant to develop zip code-like biomaterials that are capable of interrupting pathological communication mediated by cancer cells.
The grant, entitled “RNA EXO-Codes: A novel way to reprogram pathological exosomes,” is sponsored by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and is a multidisciplinary effort between the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Co-investigators are Irwin Gelman, professor of oncology in the department of cancer genetics and genomics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Piero Bianco, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Exosomes play a critical role in cellular communication and contain genetic information that allows them to manipulate or modulate their environment. They can contribute to the progression of cancer and many other diseases. Once secreted, these exosomes are captured by neighboring cells and released into the systemic circulatory system, where they have far-reaching systemic consequences.
Currently, there are no therapeutic strategies capable of interrupting the pathological communication mediated by exosomes. The goal of Nguyen’s research is to engineer RNA EXO-Codes that are selectively enriched in exosomes. “This will lay the foundation for the development of novel drug carriers for treating diseases in which exosomes are pathological. More specifically, these new carriers have the potential to prevent metastasis in cancer patients,” Nguyen explains.
The grant is effective August 1, 2017 through April 30, 2021.