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GEN’s editor in chief, John Sterling, interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.
Dr. Robert Langer is one of 13 Institute Professors (the highest honor awarded to a faculty member) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His work is at the interface of biotechnology and materials science. A major focus is the study and development of polymers to deliver drugs, particularly genetically engineered proteins, DNA, and RNAi, continuously at controlled rates for prolonged periods of time. His group is also researching new ways to create tissue and organs, including creating new polymer systems for tissue engineering. Other projects focus on the creation of new biomaterials with shape memory or surface-switching properties.
During this week's GEN podcast, Dr. Langer, a trained engineer and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the U.S. National Medal of Science last year talks about what motivated him to move into the world of drug delivery. He discusses the novel projects his laboratory is working on and describes a current application of nanotechnology to drug delivery. In addition, he addresses the issue of what needs to be done to make gene delivery a medical possibility.
Dr. Langer also provides details on his tissue-engineering research including the recent creation of a Gecko-inspired bandage.
Robert Langer, who holds the title of Institute Professor at MIT, is renowned for his revolutionary work on new and different ways to administer drugs to cancer patients. At MIT, he runs the largest biomedical engineering lab in the world. He holds more than 550 issued and pending patents and has written some 900 research papers.
Langer's achievements have had a profound impact on the field of cancer research. His accomplishments are also unique in that he entered the field with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering when he teamed with cancer researcher Judah Folkman at Children's Hospital in Boston in 1974. At that time, the scientific community believed that only small molecules could pass through a plastic delivery system in a controlled manner.
In the 1970s, Langer developed polymer materials that allowed the large molecules of a protein to pass through membranes in a controlled manner to inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which tumors recruit blood vessels. Blocking angiogenesis is critical in fighting cancer because the new blood vessels allow tumor cells to escape into the circulation and lodge in other organs.