Most drugs that kill rapidly dividing cancer cells also kill normal healthy cells. The ability to direct drugs specifically to cancer cells would avoid some of the undesirable side effects of cancer treatment. Levy proposes to tackle this challenge by developing a new type of all-in-one drug that will only be taken up by cancer cells - a drug capable of both finding and killing cancer cells. To do this, he will start with a type of molecule known as an aptamer, which can specifically bind to particular proteins found on cancer cells. These aptamers will be adapted for delivery of anti-cancer drugs resulting in "aptamer-guided pro-drugs" that specifically bind to cancer cells and kill them. A second part of the project involves identifying new aptamers that can selectively bind to different tumor types, thus expanding the types of cancers that could be treated with this novel class of self-guided drugs. Both efforts combine the power of cell targeting with drug delivery in one single synergistic molecule.
Matthew Levy, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Watch and interview with Dr. Matthew Levy on YouTube:
Updated: Apr. 28, 2010