Eden Tanner, PhD
Hitching a Ride for Effective Drug Delivery
Can you imagine if only 1% of your text messages got sent to the right person? Almost all nanoparticles used for drug delivery, especially those used for treating cancer, do not reach their intended target. In our lab, we use ionic liquids — essentially salts that are liquid at room temperature — like a GPS to make sure our nanoparticle drug compounds reach their intended targets within the body. The ionic liquids are selectively attracted to different kinds of blood components like red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Because of this natural attraction, the nanoparticles can hitch a ride on the blood cells, letting the cells do all the hard work and helping more of the nanoparticles reach their targets. For example, with this method we can deliver about half of the nanoparticles we inject into the brain. This new drug delivery approach could revolutionize medicine by allowing us to effectively and selectively deliver drugs to treat brain cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and many other diseases.
The PhRMA Foundation award has transformed the capabilities of our young lab. This award has turbo-charged the completion of foundational groundwork and directly supported 15 undergraduate researchers over the summer, many of whom are from backgrounds historically underrepresented in science.