Dr. Wickstrom Eric Wickstrom, PhD

Contact Dr. Wickstrom

233 South 10th Street
Suite 209
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 503-4578
(215) 923-4580 fax

Research and Clinical Interests
Sensing, imaging, regulation, and control of oncogene expression in cells and animal models with nucleic acid derivatives.
Cancer covers a broad spectrum of diseases, in every tissue of the body. Tissues are composed of cells, which normally grow slowly, under the tight control of a network of regulatory genes. The slow accumulation of activating mutations in growth genes, and inactivating mutations in suppressor genes, eventually allows a cell to grow out of control. Relapse is due to the development of resistant cells, rather than the escape of sensitive cells, suggesting the need for new approaches to treatment of the disease.

This laboratory is developing cancer gene-specific RNA and DNA derivatives against cancer genes in the signal transduction pathway for use as diagnostics and therapeutics for cancers. The biological systems being studied include the CCND1, HER2, EGFR, and KRAS2 cancer genes in breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer. To move our approaches into the clinic, we must identify the most efficacious RNA and DNA target sequences, their mechanisms and physiological effects. We must design and synthesize potent RNA and DNA analogs capable of surviving in the bloodstream following administration must be synthesized, and we must determine their structures.

To see active cancer gene mRNAs from outside the body, we synthesize peptide analogs that enable receptor-specific uptake of peptide nucleic acids (PNA)that hybridize to target mRNAs in the cytoplasm. By adding a radionuclide chelator to one end of a PNA-peptide, we can radioimage cancerous or precancerous regions by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET). By using a branched dendrimer PNA-peptide with multiple chelators to bind gadolinium, we might see cancer gene mRNA by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With a near infrared fluorophore, we can observe the target mRNAs by optical imaging.

Three-dimensional touch-and-feel molecular modeling and surgical simulation are being integrated with our genetic imaging scans. This study includes touch-and-feel simulations of the kinetic pathway of ligand docking with macromolecules in order to cull out kinetically unfavorable ligand designs. Both the genetic imaging approach and the virtual reality approach are being applied to the problem of varying levels of MAOA mRNA and D2DR mRNA in certain brain cells to react strongly to cocaine. We are developing genetic imaging agents to visualize and quantitate those two neural mRNAs in vivo.

On the therapeutic side, we can destroy IRS1 cancer gene mRNA in breast cancer cells and MKP1, BIM, and BCL2 cancer gene mRNAs in acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells with short interfering RNA (siRNA) sequences. We can stop KRAS2 cancer gene mRNA production in pancreas cancer cells with PNA-peptide sequences.

Infections that develop on medical implants inflict great damage. We can stop infections before they start by covalently bonding therapeutics, such as antibiotics, chemotherapeutics, peptides, or oligonucleotides, to titanium and other implant materials.

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Most recent Peer-reviewed Publications

  1. The metastatic potential of triple-negative breast cancer is decreased via caloric restriction-mediated reduction of the miR-17~92 cluster
  2. Nanotube devices for digital profiling: A focus on cancer biomarkers and circulating tumor cells.
  3. Determining efficacy of breast cancer therapy by PET imaging of HER2 mRNA
  4. Effects of hypoxanthine substitution in peptide nucleic acids targeting KRAS2 oncogenic mRNA molecules: Theory and experiment
  5. Consistent Surgeon Evaluations of Three-Dimensional Rendering of PET/CT Scans of the Abdomen of a Patient with a Ductal Pancreatic Mass
  6. VPAC1 receptors for imaging breast cancer: A feasibility study
  7. Synthesis, physicochemical and biochemical studies of anti-IRS-1 oligonucleotides containing carborane and/or metallacarborane modification
  8. Uptake, efflux, and mass transfer coefficient of fluorescent PAMAM dendrimers into pancreatic cancer cells
  9. Molecular Determinants of Epidermal Growth Factor Binding: A Molecular Dynamics Study
  10. Nanotube devices for digital profiling of cancer biomarkers and circulating tumor cells
  11. Diagnostic and therapeutic applications of carbon nanotubes
  12. Erratum to: Targeting apoptosis for optical imaging of infection
  13. Targeting apoptosis for optical imaging of infection
  14. Fluorescent peptide-PNA chimeras for imaging monoamine oxidase A mRNA in neuronal cells
  15. Three dimensional projection environment for molecular design and surgical simulation
  16. Micro- and nanotechnology approaches for capturing circulating tumor cells
  17. Genetic and molecular approaches to imaging breast cancer
  18. Self-protecting bactericidal titanium alloy surface formed by covalent bonding of daptomycin bisphosphonates
  19. Physiologically based pharmacokinetics of molecular imaging nanoparticles for mRNA detection determined in tumor-bearing mice
  20. Imaging human pancreatic cancer xenografts by targeting mutant KRAS2 mRNA with [111In]DOTAn-Poly(diamidopropanoyl)m- KRAS2 PNA- d (Cys-Ser-Lys-Cys) nanoparticles

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