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SINGAPORE – His groundbreaking drug delivery method was initially derided by the scientific community, but his relentless experimentation ultimately laid the foundation for cancer treatment and led to the founding of Covid-19 vaccine giant Moderna. I was.

Professor Robert Langer spoke about his journey in the drug development industry at the 11th Global Young Scientists Summit at the Singapore University of Design and Technology on January 18th.

Professor Langer, 74, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a PhD in Chemical Engineering. However, he applied for a postdoc job in the medical industry because of his passion for helping people. Naturally, no one wanted to hire him because his field had nothing to do with medicine.

But he remained committed to his mission and was encouraged by an elderly scientist to try Dr. Judah Folkman, a professor at Harvard University and chief of surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Professor Langer took a job as an assistant to Dr. Folkman and began working in the hospital in 1974.

Dr. Folkman studied metastasis, the process by which cancerous tumors grow and spread throughout the body. He theorized that tumors stimulate angiogenesis, or the growth of blood vessels, to supply nutrients and allow them to spread.

He tasked Professor Langer with finding a way to deliver anti-angiogenic drugs to tumors.

“I spent years in the lab, trying different materials and different designs to deliver the drug. rice field.

“But in the end we were able to make tiny nanoparticles that could carry molecules of all sizes, including nucleic acids and mRNA.”

He innovated how to confine drug molecules within microscopic particles. It may adhere to the tumor and release the drug over time by diffusion. He published his findings in the prominent scientific journal Nature in 1976.

“When I first presented this work, I was ridiculed. I was 27, the youngest person in the room.

“When I finished my talk, I thought these older people would encourage me as a young researcher. I don’t believe anything I said.”

Scientists dismissed his work, believing that large molecules were too large to get out of the nanoparticles.

Professor Langer serendipitously sought a faculty position at a university to get more funding to continue his research, but no one hired him.

“None of the chemical engineering departments in the world would hire me. should.” Professor who co-founded Moderna told to ‘find another job’ after pitching drug delivery idea

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