Current Environment:

Researcher | Research Overview

Dr. Chinnapen’s research focuses on addressing 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. His lab is currently developing technology to improve existing approaches to treat 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 to treat Type II Diabetes orally. Treatment of lysosomal diseases not only requires the delivery to affected vital organs, such as the heart, kidney and vascular endothelium, but also the crossing of the highly-selective blood-brain-barrier, which is virtually impenetrable for large biomolecules such as proteins. The lab also engages industry partners to help accelerate technology toward proof of concept and employing a broad range of disciplines, from organic chemistry to in vivo biology, Another main goal of the lab is to better understand the cellular mechanisms that underpin transcellular transport. Getting a better understanding in this process will aid in the development of next-in-class biotherapeutics that can cross highly-selective cellular barriers.

Researcher | Research Background

Dr. Chinnapen received his PhD in nucleic acid biochemistry from Simon Fraser University in Canada, and postdoctoral training at MIT in the lab of Alice Ting and then Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in the lab of Wayne Lencer, MD. Dr. Chinnapen also served as senior scientist in two biotechnology companies in Cambridge MA, developing biologics that enter the cell and signal to treat various diseases.

Selected Publications

  1. Chinnapen DJ, Hsieh WT, te Welscher YM, Saslowsky DE, Kaoutzani L, Brandsma E, D'Auria L, Park H, Wagner JS, Drake KR, Kang M, Benjamin T, Ullman MD, Costello CE, Kenworthy AK, Baumgart T, Massol RH, Lencer WI. (2012) “Lipid Sorting by Ceramide Structure from Plasma Membrane to ER for the Cholera Toxin Receptor GM1.” Developmental Cell. 23:3, 573-586. Featured in Article “GM1 Gets Sorted” Nat. Chem. Biol (2012) 8, 873. 
  2. te Welscher YM, Chinnapen DJ, Kaoutzani L, Mrsny RJ, Lencer WI. (2014) “Unsaturated glycoceramides as molecular carriers for mucosal drug delivery of GLP-1 analogues.” J. Contr. Release. 175: 72-8. 
  3. D. J.-F. Chinnapen, H. Chinnapen, D. Saslowsky and W.I. Lencer. (2007) “Rafting with Cholera Toxin: Endocytosis and Trafficking from the Plasma Membrane to ER.” (Review) FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 266: 129-137 
  4. D.J.-F. Chinnapen and D. Sen. (2004) “A Deoxyribozyme that Harnesses Light to Repair Thymine Dimers in DNA.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 101: 65-69. Featured in Article “Light-Triggered DNA Self Repair” Chem. & Eng. News (2004) 82:1, 21.