Tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as sunitinib, foretinib, and crizotinib comprise a significant class of cancer-fighting compounds. These molecules function by binding to receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) such as MET, VEGFR, and MERTK. This disables phosphorylation in pathways that can lead to oncogenic or inflammatory responses in cancer cells, such as the MAPK pathways ERK and JNK. Despite promising indications, kinase inhibitors have shown results that are highly variable from patient to patient. These discrepancies may be partly due to problems in drug delivery, arising from these molecules’ categorical hydrophobicity. One potential solution is the encapsulation of kinase inhibitors in amphiphilic nanoparticles. Development of a nanoparticle-packaging platform for these molecules would provide the scientific community with an adaptable mechanism for improving drug delivery. Furthermore, nanoparticles can be customized to include tumor or immune targeting moieties, which may enable their use to target specific pathways in immune-tumor interactions. My work will involve identification of successful nano-encapsulation strategies for different kinase inhibitors. Subsequently, nanoparticle performance will be monitored in vitro and vivo. Eventually, the targeting of nanoparticles to interfere with tumor-immune crosstalk will explore the feasibility of employing nanoparticles in immuno-oncology.
CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine. Projects performed by current and past participants include:
While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio. This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine. These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles. The complete collection may be found here.
Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day
At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience. In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards. Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!
Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!
Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award