Lurie Cancer Center Member
Phillip Messersmith, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Biomedical Engineering; Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Cancer and Physical Sciences
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The Messersmith group is interested in developing novel targeted drug delivery systems to improve efficacy and reduce toxicity of potent therapeutics in cancer treatment. For example, we are developing novel polymer conjugates of the proteasome inhibitor and anticancer drug bortezomib (BTZ) for pH-sensitive delivery to specific cancer cells. Our design exploits conjugates of BTZ catechol polymers to form membrane-impermeable polymer prodrugs with a pH-sensitive linker that is stable at neutral or alkaline pH but is unstable at low pH, facilitating local release of BTZ in two contexts: 1) for localized extracellular drug release within mildly acidic tumor interstitium; and 2) intracellularly in the more acidic endosomes following cell surface receptor-mediated endocytosis. In another project, we are developing nanoparticle systems using novel surface modifications to passivate and conjugate targeting ligands to the nanoparticle surface for targeting of cancer cells. In one case, we are developing gold nanorods functionalized with antibodies for treatment of breast and oral cancers.