Author:
kaido kurrikoff

Kaido Kurrikoff, associate professor of molecular biotechnology

Biologic therapeutics—such as therapeutic antibodies or mRNA vaccines—achieve significantly improved treatment efficacies compared to the classical, chemically synthesized, low-molecular-weight drugs. This is possible because these molecules are able to mediate highly specific bioactivity, whether it is through specific antigen-antibody binding or, for example, modification of a disease-related gene in specific tissues. Despite all these advantages, there are challenges related to this new class of therapeutics. One of the major obstacles for wider adaptation of the biologicals is related to difficulties in their delivery into desired cells and tissues.
 

The Drug Delivery research group is developing delivery methods for macromolecular therapeutics, with special focus on nucleic acid -based bioactive molecules. Nucleic acid therapeutics hold great promise, because on one hand, these can elicit various biological effects, and on the other, their effects are highly specific. For example, we can introduce a whole new gene, which will start producing any protein, by using our own cells as the production factory. Alternatively, we can modulate the activity of the existing genes, for example, by inhibiting the expression of certain oncogens that have been overexpressed in the tumor.
Our approach involves the use of cell-penetrating peptides (CPP), i.e. peptides with the ability to cross the cell membrane. We have developed several CPPs that are able to deliver nucleic acid into mammalian cells and tissues. We envision the applications of such methods in industrial biotechnology and in medicine. In biotechnology, the CPPs can be used to engineer mammalian cells in large bioreactors, which is an approach for producing therapeutic proteins, such as recombinant antibodies that are being used in various medical applications. In medicine, such tools enable gene therapy, i.e. regulation of the patients' genes in specific tissues.

The methodological profile of the group is divided into 3 interconnected fields:
Peptide and polymer chemistry. Our laboratories are equipped to design, synthesize and analyze peptide- and polymer-based nanoparticles that can be used for the delivery of macromolecular therapeutics. Design and synthesis of drug-loaded or drug-conjugated carrier systems (anticancer, antimicrobial drugs etc). Tissue targeting. Peptide modification with the aim of increasing the BBB-penetrability of a neuropeptide.
Cell biology, i.e. various activities with mammalian cell cultures. Assessment of intracellular delivery of cargo, mediated by the delivery vectors. Assessment of gene therapeutic efficacies (where the cargo is nucleic acid). Delivery assessments in advanced cell culture models (3D spheroids, differentiated cell cultures, patient tissue cultures, development of multilayer epidermis culture, involving differentiation of keratinocytes and barrier formation).
Drug delivery modelling and assessments in vivo, using preclinical rodent models. In vivo studies is one of the specialties of our workgroup, allowing us to improve the translational value of our research. We are experienced in assessing delivery efficacies into various organs/tissues, using disease models of cancer (including brain tumors), lung diseases etc. In vivo BBB penetration assessment (development of neuropeptide galanin BBB-penetrable analogues and assessment in rodent models of depression).
In vivo studies is one of the specialties of our workgroup, allowing us to improve the translational value of our research. We are experienced in assessing delivery efficacies into various organs/tissues, using disease models of cancer (including brain tumors), lung diseases etc. In vivo BBB penetration assessment (development of neuropeptide galanin BBB-penetrable analogues and assessment in rodent models of depression).
 

Selection of published works: