Manipulating Cellular Communication in the Nervous System

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 11.31.02 AMPeptides are promising therapeutic agents. The first snail drug approved for biomedical use, ziconotide (Prialt), is used to treat chronic pain in HIV and cancer patients. Despite being a breakthrough drug, ziconotide has a major drawback in that as a peptide drug, its size and complexity prevents its widespread application and a spinal tap is required to deliver it to patients. To address this issue, the Holford group is combining chemical and recombinant biology techniques to devise a method for encapsulating peptide toxins from marine snails in viral capsids for delivery across the blood brain barrier. This project, M.O.U.S.E. (Marine Organisms Used in Shuttle Encapsulation), uses snail peptides that have biomedical relevance, such as ziconotide, to produce viral capsids engineered with peptide toxins on the interior and delivery tags on the exterior to target the capsid to the site of action. Done in collaboration with Trevor Douglas at Montana State University, preliminary results include the successful synthesis of ziconotide viral capsid.

Holford Laboratory at CUNY Hunter College