2004

Suzie Pun PhD

University of Washington, Seattle, WA Robert F. Rushmer Professor, Bioengineering

Research Focus: Targeted Non-viral Delivery

Cancer Type: Metastatic Cancer

Award: Young Investigator

Recipient of Patricia Zoch Tate Gene Therapy Award

2004-2007 Research Grant:
Dr. Pun’s award is in honor of Patricia Zoch Tate who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2005. The study will research treatment of tumors using a targeted non-viral mode of delivery. Tumors exist as dense masses in the body. The physical structure of these solid tumors presents a formidable challenge to drug delivery vehicles that need to penetrate and reach all cancer cells in order to be optimally effective. The goal of this research is to develop synthetic nanoparticles that efficiently penetrate solid tumors. I am convinced that the efficacy of gene therapy can be substantially improved by designing delivery systems that overcome physical barriers.

Current Research:

Dr. Pun and her lab have recently been studying peptides that can trigger apoptosis, or cell death, and ways to use these and other macromolecules (such as nucleic acids and proteins) to develop cancer treatment drugs. She is also interested in the creation of a cancer vaccine, and is working with various nanoparticles, specifically hydrolytic esters, in order to improve the effectiveness of the delivery of genetic material. Dr. Pun hopes to apply her research on gene therapy not only to the treatment of cancer but also to that of other genetic disorders, such as hemophilia. Her research has demonstrated that many of the nanoparticles that she had been studying are effective at delivering genetic material to cancerous cells and may very well expand the use of gene therapy beyond just cancer to other genetic disorders.

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