Engineering Proteins for Cancer Imaging and Therapy

Sarah Moore, Assistant Professor of Engineering, Smith College

Friday, January 16, 2015, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series.

In recent years, a molecular scale focus in cancer diagnosis and treatment has led to significant improvements in clinical outcomes of cancer patients. This seminar will address two particular advancements in the molecular diagnosis and treatment of cancer: molecular imaging and targeted therapeutics, with a focus on engineering proteins as tumor targeting agents. Targeting agents that can serve both therapeutic and diagnostic, or “theranostic,” roles have particular clinical promise, allowing diagnostic identification of patients most likely to respond to the partner therapeutic, and then enabling clinical monitoring of tumor regression or growth during a treatment regimen. The strategy of using theranostics has not yet entered routine clinical use, largely due to the lack of appropriate targeting molecules. To develop theranostic molecules for clinical translation, we are engineering highly stable protein scaffolds to have novel molecular recognition properties to bind with high specificity to tumor tissue in vivo. Following an introduction to the fields of protein engineering and molecular imaging, we will discuss two projects demonstrating the clinical potential of theranostic molecules. First, we will present pre-clinical results from work developing engineered peptides to image medulloblastoma, a pediatric brain tumor. This innovation has potential clinical applications in targeting human brain tumors for improved diagnostic imaging, operative guidance for surgical resection, and tumor-specific pharmacotherapy. We will then present work engineering theranostic proteins that have potential applications in diagnosing and treating ovarian, triple-negative breast, lung, and pancreatic tumors.

About the Speaker

Sarah Moore is an assistant professor in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, with an affiliated appointment in the Department of Biology. In 2006, Dr. Moore graduated from Princeton University with a B.S.E from the Department of Chemical Engineering.  In 2008, she received her M.S. in Bioengineering from Stanford University, a department jointly housed in the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine.  Moore continued her education at Stanford and in 2012 completed her Ph.D. in Bioengineering.  Her graduate research focused on engineering novel peptides for applications in molecular imaging of cancer.  In 2012, Dr. Moore joined the faculty at Smith College, where her research group focuses on engineering molecules that can serve both therapeutic and diagnostic roles for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system.

For more information, contact Haley Tucker at