Transferring Technology to the Market

One of the most promising new areas of cancer treatment is the development of targeted therapy drugs. Targeted therapies work in much the same way as standard chemotherapy, but the treatment seeks to isolate the programming of the cancer cells–the characteristics that make them different from normal, healthy cells–while leaving most healthy cells alone.

Two University of Rhode Island Professors, Yana Reshetnyak and Oleg Andreev are developing ways to enable pH Low Insertion Peptide (pHLIP) to assist in the targeted delivery of therapeutic, diagnostic, prophylactic, and research agents to cells in diseased, acidic tissues including cancers (breast, prostate, bladder, melanoma, lymphoma, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, and brain) ischemic myocardium, inflammatory arthritis, and stroke. Reshetnyak and Andreev they created pHLIP Inc. in 2015 to develop new imaging techniques and therapies and ultimately, to bring their ideas to the market.

“pHLIP Inc. acts as a molecular nanosyringe, inserting itself into the cell membrane and injecting compounds into cell,” said co-founder and president, Yana Reshetnyak. “The transported molecules can be therapeutic or toxic to the cell, depending on the intended outcome. For treating cancer, the idea is to cause cell death.”

While the primary application market is oncology, pHLIP technology can also detect, target, and treat acidic diseased tissue using selective insertion and folding of membrane peptides. “Acidosis is a physiological marker of many diseases, and pHLIP feels acidity,” said Reshetnyak. “Therefore, pHLIP could also be used for monitoring of disease development and therapeutic outcomes in cancer, arthritis, ischemia and stroke.”

The technology also has the potential to be used in medical imaging, detecting breast and prostate tumors with PET/SPECT-pHLIP tracers and in fluorescence-guided surgery and ex vivo imaging.

More about Yana Reshetnyak and Oleg Andreev