We can really load this up with a large number of drug molecules, she says.
Working with Heidi Hamm, the Earl W. Sutherland Jr. Professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt, Harth synthesized a dendritic molecule with the ability to slip through cell membranes and reach the cell nucleus. They figured out how to attach this transporter to her nanoparticle and showed that the transporter can pull the nanoparticle after it into cellular compartments. They also demonstrated that the transporter can deliver large molecules specifically peptides and proteins into specific sub-cellular locations.
Peptides and proteins can act as drugs, just like smaller molecules, Harth says. However, there is not much activity in this area because people havent had a method for getting them into cells. Now that there is a way to do it, but that may change.
Hamm studies G proteins, arguably the most important signaling molecules in the cell. Scientists think that many diseases, including diabetes and certain forms of pituitary cancer, are caused by malfunctioning G proteins. She and Harth are collaborating on using the transporter to deliver peptides produced by G proteins that disrupt signaling pathways.
Evas methods for drug delivery are very novel and versatile and can be adapted to delivery of proteins, peptides, DNA and smaller chemical compounds like most drugs. The breadth of applications makes her technology very powerful, Hamm says.
The chemist is also collaborating with Dennis E. Hallahan, professor of radiation oncology at Vanderbilt, to apply the drug delivery system to fighting cancer. Hallahans lab had identified a molecule that targets a surface feature on lung carcinomas. Harth took the molecule, improved it, attached it to her nanoparticle and the two of them determined that the combination is capable of d
|Contact: David F. Salisbury|