Drazen Raucher, PhD
Genetic engineering of polypeptide sequences now permits the modification of polypeptide carriers to accommodate bonding within differing solid tumors by virtue of each carrier’s capacity to exploit a variety of molecular targets within cancer cells. This potential presents both intellectual challenge and better opportunities for developing targeted cancer treatments simultaneously able to spare healthy tissue and deliver extremely potent doses of effective, anti-tumor drugs directly to tumor cells. These genetically designed polypeptide carriers can also be modified to permit targeted therapies for other localized disease processes.
Targeted antitumor therapies have been my focus and passion for many years. To this work I bring broad training in biophysics, molecular and cell biology, and bioengineering. As a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University, I focused on the study of recombinant DNA for the design and synthesis of genetically engineered biopolymers, their biophysical characterization, and their application in biotechnology and drug delivery. Upon joining the University of Mississippi Medical Center, I began to develop ELP-based fusion proteins able to target specific cellular compartments, while pioneering the use of cell penetrating elastin-like polypeptides for the delivery of therapeutic peptides to modulate the activity of aberrant molecular pathways in cancer.
My prior work of relevance to the proposed project has included the development of externally triggered, bioengineered delivery systems for specific chemotherapeutic agents to further safe, effective treatments of brain, breast, pancreatic, and prostate tumors. My research group has expertise in the design and recombinant synthesis of biopolymers, their in vitro characterization, cell-based studies on the uptake, subcellular localization, molecular mechanisms of action and antiproliferative effects of ELP drug conjugates and therapeutic peptides, and translation of the resultant approaches into animal models of cancer. For this project my research group will perform in vitro breast cancer cytotoxicity assays with the synthesized compounds arising from your project. These assays will determine if your compounds have any inhibitory effect on the survival and propagation of human estrogen receptor positive (MCF-7) and estrogen independent (MDA-MB-231 and BT-589) breast cancer cells.