Drug Development & Disease Diagnostics
Molecular Basis of Drug Targets & Diseases

144 College Street
Toronto ON M5S 3M2

Area of Research

Shana Kelley’s research focuses on the development of new technologies for disease diagnosis, drug discovery and life sciences research. Kelley’s lab combines approaches from various disciplines, including materials chemistry, biomolecular chemistry and engineering, to create devices that can manipulate and measure biological activities.

Research Challenge

New technologies that can track biomolecular and cellular analytes are critical to diagnose disease and discover new therapeutics. Ultrasensitive analytical methods that can accurately report on disease biomarkers in complex clinical specimens will facilitate early diagnosis of disease. The development of new technologies that can monitor specific disease phenotypes with high throughput and specificity will accelerate the discovery of new therapeutics.

Proposed Solution

The Kelley lab takes an interdisciplinary approach to the development of new materials and technologies that measure and manipulate biological activities with the goal of improving early detection and treatment of disease.

The Kelley lab is developing high-throughput analytical tools that detect nucleic acid sequences and protein biomarkers in biological samples (e.g., blood) with high specificity and sensitivity. These innovative tools could be used to diagnose cancer, infectious diseases and other conditions through a simple test, potentially before symptoms appear. These tools also facilitate the discovery of new therapeutics by enabling large-scale phenotypic screening.

The team has also engineered small molecules (peptide-based conjugates) that can locate and target specific bioactive molecules within cells for drug delivery and for studying biochemical processes. These agents allow therapeutics to be more specifically targeted within the cell and can also be used as chemical probes to elucidate new cellular functions.

Impact to date

The Kelley lab has successfully developed a number of biotechnologies, some of which have already been translated into clinical practice to improve early detection and diagnosis of disease and enhance the quality of patient care. They have developed new nanoparticle technology for detecting specific surface markers on cancer cells to differentiate cancer cell types. They also engineered a peptide-based small molecule that can deliver cargo into the mitochondria, enabling research into mitochondrial DNA damage. The Kelley lab used this same small molecule to deliver and sequester drugs in the mitochondria, a strategy that may have use in cancer treatment and for detoxifying antimicrobials within cells.



Keywords: molecular sensors, cellular sensors, cancer diagnosis, cancer research, biomolecular chemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, materials science, nanotechnology, cancer, disease diagnosis, nanomaterials, sensors, drug development, small molecules