Research Matters

Research Matters

Cutting-edge cancer research

KU medicinal chemist Blake Peterson builds molecules from scratch using tools of organic chemistry and hires cancer biologists to create new anticancer agents and anticancer delivery systems. Because he holds a grant from the National Cancer Institute to spin out cancer-fighting drugs, Peterson is a major asset in the university's quest to win designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center from NCI.

Aired August 30, 2009

2 minutes 3.7 MB) | Download mp3


KU's newest top-flight cancer researcher seeks innovative ways to affect biology in cells. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Blake Peterson arrived at KU recently as the Regent's Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. The Kansas Bioscience Authority also named Peterson as one of the state's original three Eminent Scholars. On KU's West Campus, his new lab is equipped with a combination of mundane science tools and sophisticated wonder gizmos, such as a confocal laser-scanning microscope.

Peterson: I have a lab that peruses research really both in organic chemistry - we build molecules from scratch - but I also have a biology lab and I hire cancer biolofists for example that test molecules that we create in the lab to try to find new anticancer agents and also anticancer drug delivery systems.

In particular, Peterson uses fluorescent markers - dubbed fluorophores - to see biological activity at the molecular level within cells. He also designs molecules that interact with cells to make delivery of drugs more effective.

Peterson: "We've created small molecules that we can insert into cellular membranes and that give cells new capabilities. They cycle between the surface of the cell and internal compartments called 'endosomes' the way natural receptors cycle. And in that way they can pull drugs or other molecules into the cell through a new mechanism. And I'm interested in using that new technology as aw way to enhance he volume of distribution in the body. That is, to enable to drugs to hit tissues that they normally can't hit."

Because he already holds a grant from the National Cancer Institute to spin out cancer fighting drug delivery systems, Peterson hopes his contributions will assist in KU's quest to win designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center from NCI.

Peterson: "I'm certainly planning to work with the cancer center closely and will help them raise money through the NCI and other mechanisms to make caner research really a major force at KU - as it already is - but we plan to even boost it further and achieve this comprehensive cancer center designation."

For more on Blake Peterson and his work to develop anticancer therapies, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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