Workgroup of Cancer Biology

Workgroup of Cancer Biology@Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine(UT)
The mission of the Cancer Biology Laboratory is to develop smart cancer therapeutics with increased potency and decreased side effects. We use in vivo phage display screens to identify homing peptides that bind to specific targets in the vasculature. Corresponding synthetic peptides are explored for targeting drugs, biologicals, and nanoparticles into tumors to increase their therapeutic index.
We will develop novel affinity targeting agents to allow improved cancer payload delivery:

  • We will identify novel tumor penetrating peptides and use the peptides to increase tumor accumulation and cellular retention of payloads in animal models based on patient-derived xenografts.
  • The peptides will be coupled to drugs or packaged in nanoparticles (such as pH-dependent polymersomes).
  • We will determine the effect of the drug, targeting peptide, and delivery vehicle on tumor progression

The compounds developed during the project will allow improved systemic cancer drug delivery for improved efficacy and less side effects. The workgroup is led by Prof. Tambet Teesalu. He has 20 years of experience in translational biomedicine. He is a co-discoverer of a novel class of tumor homing l peptides with unique tissue-penetrating ability – tumor penetrating peptides. These peptides enable unprecedented access to extravascular compartment in tumors for improved tumor delivery of drugs and imaging payloads.
Researchers at the workgroup have backgrounds in molecular biology, pharmacology, chemistry, and material science. Such diversity and availability of complementary in-house expertise allows interdisciplinary translational studies on development of smart drugs and imaging agents that show unprecedented tumor accumulation and spare non-malignant tissues.

Tambet Teesalu, Visiting Professor, PhD, Head of the Laboratory
Lorena Simon Gracia, PhD, Researcher
Pablo Scodeller, PhD, Researcher
Maarja Haugas, PhD, Researcher
Pille Säälik, PhD, Researcher
Tarmo Mölder, MSc, Researcher
Allan Tobi, MSc, Researcher
Ksenja Kuznetsova, MSc, Researcher

Anne-Mari Anton Willmore, MSc 
Hedi Hunt, MSc
Kadri Toome, MSc
Prakash Lingasamy, MSc

Kairit Shor, MA, Project Manager
Kaarel Kurm, MSc, Lab Manager

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