Lab of Cancer Biology
The lab of professor Tambet Teesalu uses phage display screens to identify homing peptides that bind to specific targets in the vasculature. Corresponding synthetic peptides are explored for targeting drugs, biologicals, and nanoparticles into tumors to increase their therapeutic index. Our scope includes understanding the molecular interactions involved to drive specificity and activity, focusing on Tumor Penetrating Peptides (TPP) that trigger bulk extravascular transport in the tumor tissue.
Poor penetration of anti-cancer drugs into tumor tissue and to infiltrating tumor cells remains a major problem in therapy of solid tumors. Cancer therapeutics generally exhibit steep perivascular gradients, as they do not penetrate farther than 3-5 cell diameters from blood vessels. As a result, tumor cells that are distant from blood vessels receive little or no drug.
Our current work focuses on generation of tumor penetrating peptides of novel specificities (using modular or screening-based approaches), developing a better mechanistic understanding of the tumor penetration process, and optimising nanocarriers for TPP-mediated delivery.
Recently, we have identified tumor penetrating peptides (TPP) that trigger specific penetration of co-administered un-conjugated drugs deep into tumor and increase their therapeutic index. This work, published in PNAS, Cancer Cell and Science, pioneered the concept of tumor-penetrative drug delivery. Tumor penetrating peptides bind to tumor blood vessels and cause transport of various payloads (including drugs) outside the blood vessels and into tumor parenchyma. Importantly it is not necessary to couple a cargo to the peptide for tumor-selective delivery; free peptide activates a bulk transport pathway in the tumor which carries a co-injected drug or nanoparticle through the vascular wall and deep into the tumor tissue. Our technology goes beyond the state-of-the-art of targeted drug delivery platforms: it can be used to increase therapeutic index of unmodified approved cancer drugs, thus providing a potentially facilitated route to clinical applications.
Our technology goes beyond the state-of-the-art of targeted drug delivery platforms: it can be used to increase therapeutic index of unmodified approved cancer drugs, thus providing a potentially facilitated route to clinical applications.
drug development, biotechnology, drug delivery, contract research, joint technology development, technology licensing