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Studying spatial pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of drug in the abnormal tissue microenvironment Heading link

The Lee laboratory is focused on understanding disease-induced changes in the tissue microenvironment and their impact on drug distribution and therapeutic actions. For example, how do cancer cells colonize normal tissues and build the tumor microenvironment? How do cellular, molecular, and structural heterogeneities in the tumor microenvironment lead to inhomogeneous drug distribution and therapy resistance? Are these microenvironmental interferences related to tumor recurrence and metastasis?

These pharmacological challenges occur not only in cancer therapy and but also in the treatment of other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, vascular disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and inflammatory diseases.

To answer such fundamental questions, we develop novel imaging tools and bioengineering methods for integrative analysis of the abnormal tissue microenvironment. For example, three-dimensional (3D) multiplexed microscopy and single-cell spatial omics enable not only determining expression profiles of multiple proteins and genes in single cells but also tracking of drug distribution and actions in the 3D microenvironment.

Developing pharmacological modulators of the microenvironment Heading link

Our ultimate goal is to apply our science to life. Based on our new knowledge of the 3D spatial and molecular microenvironment in diseased tissues, we develop pharmacological strategies to reprogram the microenvironment for improving drug delivery and therapeutic effects using bio- and nano-technologies. For example, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) targeting immunosuppressive or tumor-associated stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment can induce robust anti-tumor immune responses by improving drug delivery in combination with immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

With integrated expertise in engineering, chemistry, biology, medicine, computer science, and entrepreneurship, our team is devoted to achieve our research goal “Improving drug delivery and therapeutic effects in the abnormal tissue microenvironment.”