Biotechnology Research Team
The USC School of Pharmacy’s biotechnology therapeutics and diagnostics research team focuses on drug design, development and delivery, seeking breakthroughs that will transform tomorrow’s medicine by generating new drug compounds and advances in molecular targeting. From bench to bedside, this research aims to develop cost-effective therapeutics and diagnostics to save and improve lives in the following ways:
- Drug design: Finding novel compounds that are easier to administer and that more effectively deliver desired therapeutic outcomes
- Development: Discovering new diagnostic tools that enable more accurate detection of early-stage disease
- Delivery: Creating cost-effective therapeutics and diagnostics with life-saving and life-enhancing properties that are faster, safer and more effective
Drug Design and Discovery
Finding new ways to design pharmaceutical agents with higher potency and fewer side effects through collaborative, multidisciplinary research
The School’s collaborative, multidisciplinary research—involving chemists, biologists, engineers and clinicians—continues to produce innovative approaches to the design of new drugs with higher effectiveness and fewer side effects. Using advanced technologies, the biotechnology drug design and discovery group identifies pharmaceutical targets and develops new drug candidates to affect those targets. Their work has led to rapid developments in computational biopharmaceutics, protein homology modeling, high-throughput docking methodologies, and the development of new methods for detailed prediction of the structure of biological interfaces. Another major focus is identification and biosynthesis of natural products using “green” production methods that eliminate the need for large amounts of expensive and hazardous organic solvents.
Offering a one-of-a-kind program that seeks to design strategies for overcoming the barriers to cellular drug uptake and trafficking
The biotechnology team’s drug delivery group focuses on drug targeting, transport and delivery, with a core of investigators who combine expertise to overcome the barriers to effective drug targeting and cellular uptake. These strategies include: regulation of cellular transport, regulation of membrane trafficking, regulation of protein sorting at cellular membranes, lipidization of peptides to facilitate cellular uptake, and modification of proteins using PTD domains. Monitoring drug distribution using non-invasive techniques, such as magnetic resonance, is a further strength of the program and includes the development of new methods for the measurement of drug pharmacokinetics in vivo.
Dr. MacKay’s laboratory is engineering a new generation of bioresponsive nanocarriers designed to more effectively target and destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue and reducing side effects of chemotherapy.
Recipient of one of the first NIH “big idea” awards designed to “encourage projects so original that they have the potential to challenge fundamental beliefs,” Dr. Camarero was recognized for his research to develop a new generation of antibody substitutes.
The biotechnology team focuses on drug design, development and delivery, working toward breakthroughs that will transform tomorrow’s medicine by generating new drug compounds for diagnostic and therapeutic use.
An expert in chemical genetics – the science of altering gene function using (transient) small molecules instead of (permanent) genetic engineering – Dr. Olenyuk is seeking new therapeutic treatments for cancer, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and more.