The research in my lab revolves around the designing of biocompatible, biodegradable therapeutic polymers for specific disease states. I believe that nanotherapeutics, utilizing smart drug delivery systems, offers us new and innovative ways to treat disease states which might not be amenable to conventional therapeutics. The research in my lab focuses on designing inventive nanocarriers to meet specific therapeutic challenges that are currently not being addressed. The design and creation of these nanotherapeutics rest not only on the polymeric chemistry needed to bring them into existence but also on a fundamental understanding of the biology and physiology of the disease state that must be considered in engineering these polymers. The design and testing of these inventive nanocarriers will incorporate concepts from polymer chemistry, in vitro characterization techniques, passive and active targeting strategies and imagining techniques to validate and quantify the efficacy and distribution of these carriers in vivo. Thus my research will be highly multi-disciplinary involving a combination of polymer chemistry, biopharmaceutics, and preclinical testing. Therefore, I view my work as translating bench side research into viable treatment options that can be applied in the clinic. Currently, the work in my lab is specifically focused on cancer therapy. The paradigm for treating cancers has changed considerably during the past decade due to new, emerging research suggesting alternate ways to manage and potentially cure cancers. These new paradigms include curbing the angiogenic effects of cancerous tissue, active targeting of cancerous tissue and finding ways to eliminate cancer stem cells.
Currently, cancer is one of the biggest public health concerns due to the poor survival rate and the limited efficiency of modern cancer therapies. Conventional treatments, including chemotherapy, use high doses of toxic drugs that often induce severe adverse effects on healthy organs. Therefore, an ideal anticancer therapy would provide the targeted administration of high drug concentration directly to the tumor for the maximum treatment while limiting degradation of the drug in the systemic circulation resulting in less adverse side effects. In addition, the efficacy of cancer treatment is also limited by the rapid development of tumor resistance. The mechanisms of this resistance are common to most cancers and include “pump” and “non-pump” resistance. Consequently, only simultaneous suppression of both types of cellular resistance is capable of substantially increasing the efficacy of anticancer drugs. Finally, in order to optimize the drug delivery and enhance the efficiency of the treatment, it is highly desirable to employ clinically relevant imaging approaches for in situ monitoring of the disease progression and therapeutic responses. Therefore, my research is currently focusing on the development of multifunctional drug delivery systems for combinatorial delivery of siRNA as cancer resistance suppressors, anticancer drugs, and real-time imaging agents. One promising approach for overcoming the drug delivery obstacle is employing nanomaterials for carrying therapeutic agents specifically to the cancer cells. Nanoparticle interiors could be used as reservoirs for anticancer drugs and imaging agents while their large surface areas could be modified with genes and cell targeting moieties.
Lab of Molecular, Cellular, and Translational Nanotherapeutics Dr. Gaurav Sahay is an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State/Oregon Health Science University. Dr. Sahay's Lab is located at the new Collaborative Life Science Building on the OHSU campus in Portland. Sahay lab is developing novel nanotechnology-based platforms for delivery of modified messenger RNA for therapeutic production of proteins in the treatment of lysosomal storage disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer immunotherapy. Furthermore, his lab is dissecting the molecular mechanisms involved in the intracellular trafficking and endosomal escape of nano-medicines for delivery of nucleic acids. These insights are necessary for the rational design of nanoparticles for efficient drug delivery. Dr. Sahay completed his postdoctoral training in the lab of Dr. Robert Langer and Dr. Daniel Anderson at Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT in 2014. He received his Ph.D. from the Lab of Dr. Alexander Kabanov at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in 2009. He holds a Masters in Pharmacology from UNMC and Bachelors in Pharmacy from University of Pune, India. He has 21 publications in top-tier journals including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Nanotechnology, PNAS, Advanced Materials, ACS Nano, Journal Of Controlled Release, etc. He is the winner of the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow Award, Nature’s Sci-BX InnoCentive Challenge and 2015 T. Nagai Controlled Release Society Postdoctoral Achievement Award.
The Sun laboratory at OSU is focused on applying nanotechnology toward unanswered problems in cancer care. We are interested in developing novel nanomaterials (polymeric, inorganic and composites) that serve as platforms for tumor-targeted drug delivery and molecular imaging contrast agents. In the area of nanotherapeutics, our research seeks to exploit the multifunctional capabilities of nanoparticles to combine conventional therapies, such as radiation and chemotherapy, to achieve a synergistic treatment response or combine treatment with medical imaging modalities for theranostic approaches, such as image-guided drug delivery. We are also actively developing nanoparticle-based (magnetic, optical and radioactive) molecular imaging probes and imaging techniques to evaluate in vivo tissue and cellular interactions of nanomaterials. As interdisciplinary scientists, our group maintains active collaborations spanning the basic sciences (chemistry, physics, and biology) to clinicians (radiology, radiation oncology, and surgery) with the goal of translating nanomedicine to patients.
Olena Taratula’s research utilizes an interdisciplinary (organic chemistry, biochemistry, and nanotechnology) approach toward the development of effective nano-imaging agents and nanomedicine, particularly for cancer. This includes the development of innovative photodynamic therapy agents and efficient drug nanocarriers. The primary focus is to cure hypoxic cancer tumors by discovering efficient ways to reduce hypoxia in tumors. A good portion of this work is focused on designing and testing diagnostic and therapeutic agents that are based on molecular cages. An additional goal is to obtain a deep understanding of the host-guest interactions crucial for these applications. Another objective to assist in the accurate diagnosis of cancer is to develop innovative imaging probes by employing noble metal nanoclusters. Multifunctional nanomaterials as targeted platforms for in vivo delivery of anti-cancer drugs and imaging agents offer control over delivery, targeting and releasing processes and thus a successful cure for cancer.
J. Mark Christensen’s research takes three basic thrusts within the areas of biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics and drug dosage formulation. In response to the growing importance of drug therapy in animals, one research area, done in collaboration with faculty from the College of Veterinary Medicine, looks at drug disposition in animals. In another area, similar research techniques are applied to determining drug dosing and disposition in humans, how drugs are absorbed, eliminated and metabolized. The development of sustained action oral dosage forms with respect to their performance, production, and in-vivo characteristics provide the last area of research. “Dr. Christensen is not accepting graduate students into his lab.”