Kevin Shopsowitz

Postdoctoral Associate
PhD- University of British Columbia

Self-assembled biomaterials & RNAi delivery for cancer therapy

RNA interference (RNAi) is a process whereby small double-stranded RNA
fragments (siRNA) silence the expression of genes via the sequence-directed
destruction of mRNA. The high specificity of RNAi makes it attractive for
the development of targeted cancer therapies, however, clinical translation
has been impeded by challenges with delivering siRNA *in vivo *that
include the need to protect it from degradation and selectively target it
to cancer cells. We have recently begun to develop RNA microsponges,
nanostructured RNA particles that form through self-assembly, as a novel
platform for siRNA delivery. These materials can be designed to contain a
very high density of RNAi sequences that are protected from degradation by
RNase enzymes but can be processed intracellularly to produce large
quantities of siRNA. We are interested in further developing RNA
micropsonges for cancer therapy by programming them with therapeutically
relevant siRNA sequences and using surface funtionalization techniques to
specifically target them to cancer cells. Future work will also seek to
better understand the self-assembly of these materials and control their
structures and properties through sequence engineering along with other