Laboratory for Materials in Medicine Pan Research Group at Illinois
Bioengineering at Illinois Engineering for Life University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Our lab is interested in exploring various pathways for cancer regression including metabolic therapy, inhibiting signaling pathways by targeting stem cell marker, nuclear receptor, etc. This process either involves repurposing of existing clinically approved therapeutics or structure-based drug discovery involving computational modeling (molecular docking studies). For a specific example, we have recently developed a novel retinoid-x-receptor agonist that transcriptionally activate NR4A1/TR3. In collaboration with Larry Schook’s lab (UIUC/UIC) we are evaluating the efficacy of these agents in transgenic onco-pig model which serves a better ‘human-centric’ animal model. The other areas of interest are combinatorial therapeutics, including combination chemo-agents or applying thermal and ultrasound (US)based effects.

Some of the agents that we study suffer from poor water solubility and low bioavailability impede their bio-application. We invented a novel metal-coordination-driven orthogonal self-assembly macrocycle-mediated heteroternary host-guest complex formation in concert to produce an effective delivery system that transports of insoluble drugs into the cancer cells.

To address the premature systemic drug release, we developed an approach to use prodrug-derived nano-assemblies. This approach innovated enzyme-labile prodrugs that can be self-assembled into a stable nanostructure and incorporate a high density of drug eliminating the systemic instability.

Key recent publications

  1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 115(32), 8087 (2018).
  2. Mol Cancer Ther. 17(1):119 (2018).
  3. Biomaterials 181:252, (2018)
  4. Med. Chem. 61, 10739, (2018).
  5. Health. Mat 6, 1700008, (2017)
  6. Sci Rep. 6:28196 (2016).
  7. ACS Nano. 9, 10695, (2015).
  8. Nanoscale, 7, 7127, (2015).