Cancer Institute

  • Drazen Raucher

    Professor, Department of Biochemistry
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
    PhD, Molecular Biophysics, 1995, Institute of Molecular Biophysics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
    Postdoctoral Studies, 1995-99, Duke University Medical Center
    Asst. Research Professor, 1999-2000, Duke University
    Asst. Research Professor, 2001-02, Duke University
    Asst. Professor, 2002-07, University of Mississippi Medical Center
    Assoc. Professor, 2007-10, UMMC
    Professor, 2010-present, UMMC

    Contact information 
    2500 N State St, Room 320
    Jackson, MS 39216
    Phone: (601) 984-1510


    Research interests

    • Thermally targeted biopolymer drug carriers
    • Drug-delivery systems in oncology
    • Therapeutic peptides

    Research synopsis

    Due to the severe side-effects and limited efficacy of many current chemotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer, new agents and drug delivery systems are needed. Peptide therapeutics are a promising new strategy for targeted cancer therapy because of the ease of peptide design and the specificity of peptides for their targets. However, the utility of peptides is limited by their poor pharmacokinetic parameters in vivo. Our long-term goal is to overcome this limitation by developing an approach that allows peptide therapeutics to be delivered specifically to the tumor site. To accomplish this goal, we are developing an externally triggered drug delivery system that can selectively deliver therapeutic peptides to solid tumors. The proposed drug carrier is based on the thermally responsive biopolymer elastin-like polypeptide (ELP), which is soluble at physiological temperature, but undergoes a phase transition and aggregates in response to externally applied mild hyperthermia at 40-41 °C. A cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) is conjugated to ELP to facilitate cell entry, and therapeutic peptide is added to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Such thermally responsive polypeptides are amenable to molecular design and engineering, are easily and inexpensively produced at high purity and quantity, and may be efficiently targeted and adapted to any cell type or tissue. In addition to being passively targeted to the tumor site because of its macromolecular properties, accumulation of ELP carriers may be further enhanced in tumor tissues by focused hyperthermia. Furthermore, an additional level of specificity may be achieved by targeting oncogenic or cell cycle regulatory proteins often functioning aberrantly in cancer cells. This will open the door for the use of an entire class of promising therapeutic molecules with increased tumor specificity and reduced toxicity.

    Selected publications