Novel Peptides Targeting Deadly Brain Tumors

The inability of many systemically delivered compounds to cross the blood brain barrier remains a major limitation in imaging and treating brain cancers. This peptide-based therapeutic achieves delivery across the blood brain barrier, one of the greatest challenges to the development of chemotherapeutics for brain cancers. These highly specific peptides represent a new platform for the delivery of cancer drugs and imaging molecules to cancer cells and have significant potential to revolutionize the treatment of deadly brain tumors.

Invention Summary

Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine have designed and synthesized novel peptides that target a deadly brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, by binding to the IL-13Rα2 receptor, which is highly expressed by these cancer cells. The peptides cross the blood brain barrier and strongly bind specifically to IL-13Rα2. The peptides are conjugated to one or more drugs that are toxic to cells. Upon binding specifically to brain tumor cells, the peptide-drug conjugates are internalized and then kill the tumor cells without targeting normal brain cells. Alternatively, the peptides can deliver imaging molecules that can be used to precisely diagnose brain tumors.


  • The peptides can be conjugated to a variety of cytotoxic and imaging agents, allowing oncologists to customize treatment.
  • The peptides cross the blood brain barrier, improving access to brain tumors compared to conventional therapies.
  • The peptides are relatively straightforward and inexpensive to produce.

Application Fields

  • Highly specific delivery of chemotherapeutics to glioblastoma multiforme tumors and other cancers in sensitive tissues
  • Delivery of imaging agents for precise diagnosis can improve treatment planning

Stage of Development

  • Proof of concept established in human glioblastoma multiforme cells.


  • Waldemar Debinski, MD, PhD
  • Hetal Pandya, PhD (National Institutes of Health)
  • Denise Gibo, BS



Pandya et al. Genes Cancer. 2010 1(5):421-33.
Pandya et al. NeuroOncol. 2012 14(1):6-18.

Licensing Contact

Dean Stell
Associate Director, Industry Relations & Business Development

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