Innovative Qiaobing Xu

Targeted drug delivery

At least 100 genuine, and a large number of modified, therapeutic proteins and peptides are approved for clinical use, yet most protein and peptide pharmaceuticals on the market or under development now achieve their therapeutic effects by targeting cell surface receptors.  BCC Research expects the protein therapeutic market to grow from roughly $137 billion to $179 billion, a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% from 2013 to 2018.  The delivery of protein therapeutics safely and efficiently through the cell membrane to reach their intracellular targets remains a challenge, and improved delivery methods will help to expand this field and the number of therapeutic targets available.  Intracellular targets represent a tremendous opportunity in terms of harnessing peptide therapeutics to ameliorate disease and provide new therapies where current treatment methods are unattainable.

Qiaobing Xu, PhD has answered this unmet need with the development of novel lipid‐mediated formulations for protein delivery.  Dr. Xu is an Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and his research interests lie at the intersection of material science engineering and chemical biology.  Dr. Xu has developed a combinatorial library of cationic lipid‐like materials (lipidoids) for intracellular protein delivery.  These nanocarriers are easily generated with a synthetic methodology, and the bioreducible nature of this technology makes it broadly applicable in the field of protein drug delivery.

Xu’s group has synthesized a proprietary combinatorial library of cationic lipid-like materials. The new materials have been screened for intracellular protein delivery in a high-throughput manner. The preliminary screening has led to a few candidates and formulations, which showed effectiveness in killing cancer cells both in vitro and in mice models. This novel protein delivery platform will enable the clinical translation of proteins and antibodies as drug candidates by addressing the issue of cell permeability for multiple protein classes. This method will offer a promising cancer treatment where the tumor builds the resistance to small molecule-based drugs.

Benefits of this system compared to other common liposomal protein delivery systems include that it is applicable to any protein therapeutic, it utilizes an efficient, cost-effective methodology for cheap, scalable synthesis of lipids, it provides a traceless delivery method, and it involves small broadly-applicable nanocomplexes similar to those already used by drug companies for RNAi formulations and delivery

Entrepreneurial aspirations

In June 2013 Qiaobing Xu, was named a Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  The highly competitive program, whose past winners have included Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows and recipients of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, identifies talented researchers in medicine or biomedical sciences. Xu will receive $240,000 over four years to advance his research.

Xu hopes to start a company based on this novel delivery platform.  Tufts Tech Transfer is helping Xu to develop the value proposition and business pitch for this opportunity.  Tech Transfer is presenting Xu’s opportunity at several partnering conferences and is actively seeking collaboration partners.

“Tufts Tech Transfer has been great, protecting the intellectual property, providing resources and making connections with potential investors.  They are always pursuing every opportunity to maximize the utilization of a new discovery.” says Xu.

“This technology has exceptional potential to improve intracellular delivery of protein therapeutics” says Erika Bechtold, Tufts Tech Transfer Licensing Associate. “We’re glad to be able to help commercialize this promising platform technology and answer an unmet need in harnessing peptide therapeutics.”