Sensing and on-demand delivery in human cells: Given our improved understanding of building complex gene expression networks, we now seek to introduce these back into cells to perform as more precise therapeutics with respect to timing, physiological state, etc. Towards this end, we are developing safe, regulated genetic networks that can be used in gene therapy to deliver therapeutic proteins on-demand.
Reversible slowing of biological processes: It is a challenge to develop a therapeutic molecule that slows or pauses metabolism and prevents cellular damage. However, such a molecule would be invaluable for traumatic injury and the preservation of therapeutics, tissues and organs for transplant, and plants and living materials. Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) from organisms such as resurrection plants (time lapse below) hold promise for their ability to protect cells from severe environmental exposures. We are using IDPs as a starting point to learn how to design proteins for efficacy and safety.