New funding advances cancer-fighting drug development


University of Akron researcher Judit Puskas received a $749,747 National Science Foundation grant to further her creation of a polymer-based cancer-fighting drug. When paired with a rubber polymer prosthetic breast, which Puskas has been developing since 2008, the drug works to target cancer cells.

Judit Puskas implant

Judit Puskas holds a prototype of the polymer prosthetic breast that would deliver targeted drug therapy.

Puskas, the Joseph M. Gingo Chair in Chemical Engineering at UA, explains that the drug would be absorbed into the body from the implant for localized treatment. It would replace traditional chemotherapy and its accompanying side effects, including collateral damage of healthy cells.

“New delivery devices are badly needed for cancer therapy,” says Puskas, who points out that one in eight American women develops breast cancer. “Specific targeting is the optimal approach for any diagnostic and chemotherapeutic agent.”

Heading toward product development

The funding was allocated to PolyInsight LLC of Akron to support commercialization of the cancer-killing polymeric agent developed by Puskas and former UA graduate assistant Kwang Su Seo.

This second Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the NSF to Puskas is a two-year, Phase II grant intended for early-stage research and product development. Puskas, along with PolyInsight LLC and the University of Akron Research Foundation, formed Enzyme Catalyzed Polymers LLC, a spinoff company that licensed the relevant technology from UA.

Puskas is collaborating with Cleveland Clinic radiologist Gordon McLennan and the clinic’s Lerner Research Institute Imaging Core Director Judith Drazb, who will image the location of the targeted drug in vitro and in vivo, Puskas says.


 Story by Nicholas Nussen

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