Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Wickstrom, Eric

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ric Wickstrom, PhD

Eric Wickstrom, PhD

Contact Dr. Wickstrom

233 South Tenth Street
209 & 219 Bluemle Life Sciences Building
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 955-4578
(215) 955-4580 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.


Most Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications

  1. Fluorescence Imaging of Huntingtin mRNA Knockdown
  2. Development of a voided urine assay for detecting prostate cancer non-invasively: a pilot study
  3. Covalent Attachment of Daptomycin to Ti6Al4V Alloy Surfaces by a Thioether Linkage to Inhibit Colonization by Staphylococcus aureus
  4. Static micro-array isolation, dynamic time series classification, capture and enumeration of spiked breast cancer cells in blood: The nanotube-CTC chip
  5. Label-free capture of breast cancer cells spiked in buffy coats using carbon nanotube antibody micro-arrays
  6. Evaluation of a PACAP Peptide Analogue Labeled with68Ga Using Two Different Chelating Agents
  7. Non-specific blocking of MIR-17-5p guide strand in triple negative breast cancer cells by amplifying passenger strand activity
  8. DNA and RNA derivatives to optimize distribution and delivery
  9. Nanotube- and graphene-based photomedicine for cancer therapeutics
  10. Fluorescence Detection of KRAS2 mRNA Hybridization in Lung Cancer Cells with PNA-Peptides Containing an Internal Thiazole Orange
  11. The metastatic potential of triple-negative breast cancer is decreased via caloric restriction-mediated reduction of the miR-17~92 cluster
  12. Nanotube devices for digital profiling: A focus on cancer biomarkers and circulating tumor cells.
  13. Determining efficacy of breast cancer therapy by PET imaging of HER2 mRNA
  14. Effects of hypoxanthine substitution in peptide nucleic acids targeting KRAS2 oncogenic mRNA molecules: Theory and experiment
  15. Consistent Surgeon Evaluations of Three-Dimensional Rendering of PET/CT Scans of the Abdomen of a Patient with a Ductal Pancreatic Mass
  16. VPAC1 receptors for imaging breast cancer: A feasibility study
  17. Synthesis, physicochemical and biochemical studies of anti-IRS-1 oligonucleotides containing carborane and/or metallacarborane modification
  18. Uptake, efflux, and mass transfer coefficient of fluorescent PAMAM dendrimers into pancreatic cancer cells
  19. Molecular Determinants of Epidermal Growth Factor Binding: A Molecular Dynamics Study
  20. Nanotube devices for digital profiling of cancer biomarkers and circulating tumor cells