In its first cooperative venture with a professor at an Israeli university, Pfizer has announced that it will be collaborating with Bar-Ilan University (BIU) Prof. Ido Bachelet on his research project that will enable DNA robots to deliver medical proteins to designated tissue.
Prof. Bachelet, whose laboratory is at the Bar-Ilan Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), has created a method of producing DNA molecules with characteristics that can be programmed to reach specific locations in the body, as well as carry out pre-programmed operations that can respond to stimulation from the body.
Overcoming a Problem in Drug Design
By agreeing to support this technology, Pfizer has expressed confidence in Prof. Bachelet’s approach that shows great promise in helping overcome a major problem in drug design — the fact that doctors have almost no control where or when a drug will be active once it is administered.
Prof. Bachelet’s system opens up new possibilities for bio-embedded computers that can work as a coordinated team, responding to cellular signals, making a drug available or unavailable at will, and controlling drug interactions.
Potential to Target Cancer Cells
In explaining how to make a nanometric robot, Bachelet says, “We first of all create a selected DNA sequence, and then fold it by using a process called DNA origami. With this method, a person can give a command to a computer, which folds the DNA molecule as needed.”
According to Bachelet, this method has the potential to target cancer cells. These types of cells can be targeted as a result of using the DNA sequence to make a form of a clam that contains an anti-cancer drug. He adds, “…the clam can be designed to change its shape and release the drug only when it meets a cancer cell or the right tissue.”
A Returning Scientist, Prof. Bachelet came to BIU from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) several years ago. He is among the 50 Returning Scientists who were brought back to Israel by BIU, thanks in part to funding provided by supporters of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University.
To learn more about Prof. Bachelet’s research to improve drug therapy for cancer and other diseases, call Howard Charish at 212-906-3900.