The Chinnapen Lab focuses on both the development of novel technologies to deliver biologics drugs across cellular membrane barriers, and to better understand the cellular mechanisms that underpin this transcellular transport. There are two major problems faced in biotechnological drug development: 1) lack of transport for biologics across the blood-brain-barrier, and 2) lack of oral bioavailability of large therapeutic peptides. The lab is currently developing technology to improve existing approaches for the treatment of rare genetic lysosomal disorders, such as Tay-Sachs and Fabry diseases, and to deliver biologics across cellular barriers (endothelial and epithelial) as a platform approach for the development of oral biologics and for transport across the blood-brain-barrier.
Treatment of lysosomal diseases not only requires the delivery to affected vital organs, such as the heart, kidney and vascular endothelium, but also crossing the BBB, which is virtually impenetrable for large biomolecules. The lab also engages industry partners to help accelerate technology toward proof of concept by employing a broad range of disciplines, from organic chemistry to in vivo biology. Understanding these processes will aid in the development of next-in-class biotherapeutics that can cross highly-selective cellular barriers.