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A Collaborative Effort to Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier

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From designing novel proteins to isolating natural compounds for antitumorigenic effects, bioengineering and pharmacological innovation occurs on a daily basis in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Cedars-Sinai Cancer. But the magic really happens when experts in these fields routinely engage with colleagues in bioinformatics, cell biology, molecular biology, nanotechnology, chemistry, clinical therapeutics and even art.

“When we systemically deliver the engineered bioparticle loaded with Dr. Turkson’s tumor-toxic molecules, it can enter the brain and target resistant and metastatic tumors.”
– Lali Medina-Kauwe, PhD

Early Success Stories

The cross-pollination of ideas has already resulted in a virus-based drug-delivery vector that crosses the blood-brain barrier, making the targeted treatment of triple-negative breast cancer that has metastasized to the brain (and other hard-to-treat brain tumors) a real possibility.

The novel nanoparticle can be customized to carry a wide range of drug substances, including those recently designed to attack HER cancers. Add to that the identification of a natural therapeutic that triggers apoptosis by targeting abnormal cells with cancer’s characteristic metabolic changes and oxidative stress signals, and consultations with experimental therapeutics and trial design experts are growing exponentially.

“Our compound shows a strong selectivity for targeting cancer cells and suppresses their ability to cope and survive under high oxidative stress.” – James Turkson, PhD

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Computer design is helping scientists speed up improvements in protein design, work that could enhance our ability to reach breast cancer that has metastasized to the brain.

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