As a principal investigator, Dr. Lin Zhu won a two-years American Cancer Society- Ellison Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship totaling $102,000.
Dr. Lin Zhu received his PhD in Pharmaceutics from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 2010 and is currently a postdoctoral research associate advised by Dr. Vladimir P. Torchilin in the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His researches focus on the development of novel drug delivery systems and nanomedicines for tumor-targeted drug delivery and therapy.
Anticancer chemotherapeutic drugs are used to kill cancer cells and suppress the tumor growth. They are commonly toxic chemicals and can be taken-up by not only tumor cells but also normal healthy cells. In clinics, the outcomes of chemotherapy are compromised by its severe side effects. Recently, matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) has been found up-regulated in most human cancers to promote the tumor growth and metastasis. In the preliminary study, Dr. Zhu prepared a MMP2-responsive paclitaxel (a front-line water-insoluble chemotherapeutic drug)-containing nanocarrier which could respond to tumoral MMP2 and trigger tumor cell internalization of drug-containing nanocarriers. It was found that the nanocarrier significantly increased the solubility of paclitaxel and the paclitaxel-containing nanocarrier efficiently killed tumor cells but had low toxicity in normal cells. However, repetitive use of paclitaxel will cause the acquired paclitaxel resistance in tumor cells resulting in low drug efficacy. In the awarded proposal (Title: Stimulus-responsive Co-delivery of Paclitaxel and Curcumin to Cancer Cells), to conquer drug resistance, curcumin (a nature product, as a chemosensitizer) will be co-delivered to tumor cells by the same nanocarrier to potentiate the anticancer effect of paclitaxel. The enhanced tumor targeting as well as the synergistic effects will result in the improved antitumor efficacy and decreased side effects. The proposed studies will contribute to the anticancer drug development and provide a new modality to increase the potency of currently approved anticancer drugs. This work will also benefit the area of drug combination for cancer treatment. The project will be guided by Dr. Vladimir P. Torchilin, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in School of Pharmacy, Bouve College of Health Sciences.