Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Prodrugs of PKC modulators show enhanced HIV latency reversal and an expanded therapeutic window. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Sloane, J. L., Benner, N. L., Keenan, K. N., Zang, X., Soliman, M. S., Wu, X., Dimapasoc, M., Chun, T., Marsden, M. D., Zack, J. A., Wender, P. A. 2020


    AIDS is a pandemic disease caused by HIV that affects 37 million people worldwide. Current antiretroviral therapy slows disease progression but does not eliminate latently infected cells, which resupply active virus, thus necessitating lifelong treatment with associated compliance, cost, and chemoexposure issues. Latency-reversing agents (LRAs) activate these cells, allowing for their potential clearance, thus presenting a strategy to eradicate the infection. Protein kinase C (PKC) modulators-including prostratin, ingenol esters, bryostatin, and their analogs-are potent LRAs in various stages of development for several clinical indications. While LRAs are promising, a major challenge associated with their clinical use is sustaining therapeutically meaningful levels of the active agent while minimizing side effects. Here we describe a strategy to address this problem based on LRA prodrugs, designed for controllable release of the active LRA after a single injection. As intended, these prodrugs exhibit comparable or superior in vitro activity relative to the parent compounds. Selected compounds induced higher in vivo expression of CD69, an activation biomarker, and, by releasing free agent over time, significantly improved tolerability when compared to the parent LRAs. More generally, selected prodrugs of PKC modulators avoid the bolus toxicities of the parent drug and exhibit greater efficacy and expanded tolerability, thereby addressing a longstanding objective for many clinical applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1919408117

    View details for PubMedID 32371485

  • Oligo(serine ester) Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters: Organocatalytic Ring-Opening Polymerization and their Use for in Vitro and in Vivo mRNA Delivery JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Benner, N. L., McClellan, R. L., Turlington, C. R., Haabeth, O. W., Waymouth, R. M., Wender, P. A. 2019; 141 (21): 8416–21
  • Oligo(serine ester) Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters: Organocatalytic Ring-Opening Polymerization and their Use for in Vitro and in Vivo mRNA Delivery. Journal of the American Chemical Society Benner, N. L., McClellan, R. L., Turlington, C. R., Haabeth, O. A., Waymouth, R. M., Wender, P. A. 2019


    RNA technology is transforming life science research and medicine, but many applications are limited by the accessibility, cost, efficacy, and tolerability of delivery systems. Here we report the first members of a new class of dynamic RNA delivery vectors, oligo(serine ester)-based charge-altering releasable transporters (Ser-CARTs). Composed of lipid-containing oligocarbonates and cationic oligo(serine esters), Ser-CARTs are readily prepared (one flask) by a mild ring-opening polymerization using thiourea anions and, upon simple mixing with mRNA, readily form complexes that degrade to neutral serine-based products, efficiently releasing their mRNA cargo. mRNA/Ser-CART transfection efficiencies of >95% are achieved in vitro. Intramuscular or intravenous (iv) injections of mRNA/Ser-CARTs into living mice result in in vivo expression of a luciferase reporter protein, with spleen localization observed after iv injection.

    View details for PubMedID 31083999

  • Functional DNA Delivery Enabled by Lipid-Modified Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters (CARTs) BIOMACROMOLECULES Benner, N. L., Near, K. E., Bachmann, M. H., Contag, C. H., Waymouth, R. M., Wender, P. A. 2018; 19 (7): 2812–24


    Safe and effective DNA delivery systems are required to enable or enhance clinical strategies and research involving gene therapy and DNA vaccinations. To address this delivery problem, a series of charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) with varied lipid content were prepared and evaluated for plasmid DNA (pDNA) delivery into cultured cells. These lipid-modified CART co-oligomers were synthesized in only two steps via sequential organocatalytic ring-opening polymerization of lipid-containing cyclic carbonate monomers and morpholinone monomers. Lipid variations of the CARTs substantially impacted the delivery efficiency of pDNA, with oleyl- and linoleyl-based CARTs showing enhanced performance relative to the commercial transfection agent Lipofectamine 2000 (L2000). The best-performing oleyl CART was carried forward to study stable luciferase transfection with a Sleeping Beauty ( SB) transposon system. The oleyl CART outperformed the L2000 positive control with respect to stable transfection efficiency. CART-pDNA complexes represent a new DNA delivery system for research and clinical applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.biomac.8b00401

    View details for Web of Science ID 000438470800044

    View details for PubMedID 29727572

  • Enhanced mRNA delivery into lymphocytes enabled by lipid-varied libraries of charge-altering releasable transporters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America McKinlay, C. J., Benner, N. L., Haabeth, O. A., Waymouth, R. M., Wender, P. A. 2018; 115 (26): E5859–E5866


    We report a strategy for generating a combinatorial library of oligonucleotide transporters with varied lipid domains and their use in the efficient transfection of lymphocytes with mRNA in vitro and in vivo. This library is based on amphiphilic charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) that contain a lipophilic block functionalized with various side-chain lipids and a polycationic alpha-amino ester mRNA-binding block that undergoes rearrangement to neutral small molecules, resulting in mRNA release. We show that certain binary mixtures of these lipid-varied CARTs provide up to a ninefold enhancement in mRNA translation in lymphocytes in vitro relative to either a single-lipid CART component alone or the commercial reagent Lipofectamine 2000, corresponding to a striking increase in percent transfection from 9-12% to 80%. Informed by the results with binary mixtures, we further show that CARTs consisting of optimized ratios of the two lead lipids incorporated into a single hybrid-lipid transporter molecule maintain the same delivery efficacy as the noncovalent mixture of two CARTs. The lead lipid CART mixtures and hybrid-lipid CARTs show enhanced lymphocyte transfection in primary T cells and in vivo in mice. This combinatorial approach for rapidly screening mRNA delivery vectors has provided lipid-varied CART mixtures and hybrid-lipid CARTs that exhibit significant improvement in mRNA delivery to lymphocytes, a finding of potentially broad value in research and clinical applications.

    View details for PubMedID 29891683

  • Vault Nanoparticles: Chemical Modifications for Imaging and Enhanced Delivery ACS NANO Benner, N. L., Zang, X., Buehler, D. C., Kickhoefer, V. A., Rome, M. E., Rome, L. H., Wender, P. A. 2017; 11 (1): 872-881


    Vault nanoparticles represent promising vehicles for drug and probe delivery. Innately found within human cells, vaults are stable, biocompatible nanocapsules possessing an internal volume that can encapsulate hundreds to thousands of molecules. They can also be targeted. Unlike most nanoparticles, vaults are nonimmunogenic and monodispersed and can be rapidly produced in insect cells. Efforts to create vaults with modified properties have been, to date, almost entirely limited to recombinant bioengineering approaches. Here we report a systematic chemical study of covalent vault modifications, directed at tuning vault properties for research and clinical applications, such as imaging, targeted delivery, and enhanced cellular uptake. As supra-macromolecular structures, vaults contain thousands of derivatizable amino acid side chains. This study is focused on establishing the comparative selectivity and efficiency of chemically modifying vault lysine and cysteine residues, using Michael additions, nucleophilic substitutions, and disulfide exchange reactions. We also report a strategy that converts the more abundant vault lysine residues to readily functionalizable thiol terminated side chains through treatment with 2-iminothiolane (Traut's reagent). These studies provide a method to doubly modify vaults with cell penetrating peptides and imaging agents, allowing for in vitro studies on their enhanced uptake into cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsnano.6b07440

    View details for Web of Science ID 000392886500091

    View details for PubMedID 28029784

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5372831