Associate 2014-15

Jianjun Cheng

Materials Science

Chang imageIn Vivo Targeting via Bioorthogonal Chembody/Chemgen Technology

Cell surfaces often possess one or more types of proteins that are specific to a given cell or to a type of disease. These proteins are known as antigens. Another type of protein, antibodies, can interact specifically with and bind to antigens. Antigen/antibody interaction has been widely used for the selective targeting of cells, organs, and diseases in a biological system. But this approach has several drawbacks, including undesired immune responses and the difficulty of producing and handling antibodies. Also, antigens originate within the cell, and there is no current strategy to introduce external antigens for subsequent targeting by antibodies.

During his Center appointment Professor Cheng and his team plan to develop a new in vivo targeting technology facilitated by bioorthogonal chemistry. Specifically, the research goal is to mediate the highly specific presentation of the azide group on targeted cell surfaces for targeting by alkyne-containing substrate. If demonstrated in vivo, the new targeting concept should result in a paradigm shift, using a chemical reaction instead of complex biological macromolecule interactions such as antibody/antigen. The technology can be applied to the development of disease-targeting small molecule conjugates, and also potentially used to design patient-specific nanomedicine. It should also find broad application in cell differentiation, cell sorting, targeting cell recognition, gene and drug delivery, and drug discovery and development