Molecular Engineering of Innovative Targeted Therapeutics for Cancer

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 2:00pm
Fung Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Maurizio Pellecchia

Professor of Chemical Biology at the Cancer Center
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Molecular Engineering of Innovative Targeted Therapeutics for Cancer


In oncology research, targeted therapies and tumor-homing agents have recently attracted extensive attention because they offer greater specificity towards cancer cells. By using a combination of biophysical and chemical biology approaches, we have devised a number of strategies to identify, optimize and derivatize a number of innovative agents that target selectively tumor specific genes, including extracellular and intracellular proteins. Cellular and in vivoimaging studies coupled with efficacy in mice models of melanoma, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers support the utility of these agents in developing novel anti-cancer therapeutics and diagnostics. I will present on our recent developments in this field by reporting on EphA2 receptor targeting agents conjugated with imaging and chemotherapeutic agents for cellular and in vivo studies. I will also present on the engineering of innovative covalent targeted agents designed against intracellular oncogenes. The molecular agents identified are useful to advance our knowledge on the molecular basis of cancer cells survival and proliferation, and ultimately pave the way for the development of more selective and effective therapies for cancer patients.


Dr. Pellecchia is a chemical biologist with strong background in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular engineering and a focus an interest in oncology research. He trained at the University of Naples where he obtained his Ph.D. (Pharmaceutical Sciences), at the ETH-Zurich, (Biophysics and Molecular Biology), and the University of Michigan (Biophysics). Prior to his recruitment at the Sanford-Burnham in 2002 as Associate Professor, Dr. Pellecchia spent a few years in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Pellecchia is currently Professor of Chemical Biology at the Cancer Center of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Pathology of UCSD; he also teaches and coordinates two graduate courses in modern molecular medicine strategies.