Supramolecular messaging: the unexpected impact ionizable lipid molecular structure has on the delivery of nucleic acids.
Oct 20, 2023
2:30PM to 3:30PM
Date(s) - 20/10/2023
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Prof. Omar F. Khan
Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto
Ribonucleic acids (RNA) have the potential to cure many undruggable diseases. These molecules are instruction sets that the body can follow to help heal itself. However, for the treatment to work, the most efficient set of instructions must be delivered. Equally important are the ionizable lipids used to deliver these RNA molecules. Ionizable lipids are combined with excipients and RNA to form lipid nanoparticles. The molecular design of these ionizable lipids have a dramatic impact the therapy’s performance. In this seminar, I will discuss how we use pathology, supramolecular, biomaterial and immunological approaches to find the best RNA instructions and ionizable lipid molecular structures. By studying the pathology of diseases, we discover unconventional yet efficacious therapeutic RNA combinations. For the ionizable lipids, we use both rational design and structure-function studies. Specifically, we use internal molecular motifs, noncovalent binding and heteroatomic positioning to control payload capacity, RNA utilization, safety, pharmacokinetics and stability. As an accessible introduction to pathology, chemistry, biomaterial and immunology concepts, this seminar will also demonstrate how my team links different fields through interdisciplinary engineering.
Professor Khan is the Canada Research Chair in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics. He earned his B.A.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry from the University of Toronto, and his academic supervisor was Professor Michael V. Sefton. He later joined the laboratories of Professors Daniel G. Anderson and Robert Langer as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Khan was also the Scientific Founder and Chief Scientist of Tiba Biotech, a Boston-area company spun out from his postdoctoral research. He has also co-founded the OFK Lab spinout Azane Therapeutics with his graduate students. As an mRNA nanotechnology and vaccine expert, he is regularly featured in television, radio and print news. His early career focused on the creation of three dimensional organoid models and engineered tissue substitutes. This work evolved to include the development of nucleic acid-based platform technologies and novel biomaterials to study the genetic mechanisms of diseases and create RNA-based therapies. Now, Professor Khan endeavors to contribute to Canada’s growing research-to-translation ecosystem by creating new regenerative medicine-enabling technologies, and training highly qualified personnel capable of addressing diverse local and global bioengineering needs. Outside of work, he loves swimming, cooking, and family time with his wife and two babies.
In-Person: ABB 102