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X. Margaret Liu, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Lufang Zhou, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Medicine, recently developed a novel mitochondrial luminoptogenetics technology that can be adapted to treat multiple cancers and other diseases.


X. Margaret Liu


Lufang Zhou

Liu and Zhou are working with clinicians Herbert Chen, M.D., chair, Department of Surgery and Eddy Yang, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, to fully investigate the therapeutic efficacy of this targeted mitochondrial gene therapy for neuroendocrine cancer (NET) and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

The interdepartmental researchers also received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, “Targeted Exosome-Associated AAV-Mediated Gene Therapy to Eliminate Metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancers.” This one-year, $240,000 seeks to use the somatostatin receptor commonly overexpressed in cancer cells to introduce genes that will selectively eliminate neuroendocrine tumors with minimal side effects.

“We are actively seeking external funds to further evaluate this novel mitochondrial-targeted gene therapy and expand its application,” says Liu. “Hopefully this new therapy could benefit cancer patients in the future.”