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Illinois BioNanotechnology Seminar Series Spring 2011: Development of Anticancer Medicine

By Jianjun Cheng

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Nanoparticles are promising carriers for the delivery of chemotherapeutics for cancer therapy because they are able to carry large payload of therapeutic modalities, extravasate leaky tumor vasculatures, and mediate sustained drug release in tumor tissues. However, over the past several decades there has been only very limited clinical success of anticancer nanomedicine because of tremendous issues related to their formulation. We developed various controlled chemistries and engineering processes to prepare anticancer nanomedicines with well-controlled physicochemical and biological properties. In one study, we developed the nanoconjugation technique, utilizing hydroxyl-containing therapeutic agents initiated lactide polymerization followed by nano-precipitation to develop polymeric nanoconjugates with defined drug loading, quantitative loading efficiency and controlled release profiles. We also developed drug-conjugate silica nanoparticles with precisely controlled particle sizes and demonstrated the size-dependent tumor tissue penetration. Preliminary studies on cancer targeting using aptamer-nanoparticle conjugates was also evaluated and demonstrated in vitro and vivo.


Professor Jianjun Cheng obtained a B.S. degree in chemistry from Nankai University, Tianjin, People's Republic of China, in 1993, and a M.S. degree in chemistry from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1996. He received his Ph.D. degree in materials science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2001 with Professor Timothy Deming. From 2001 to 2004, Cheng was a senior scientist and a project leader at Insert Therapeutics, Inc., a startup biotechnology company. After working as a postdoctoral research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Professor Robert Langer from 2004 to 2005, Cheng joined the faculty of University of Illinois in August 2005. He currently holds a primary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and is affiliated with the Department of Bioengineering.


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  1. Rong Tong, Jianjun Cheng, Ring-Opening Polymerization-Mediated Controlled Formulation of Polylactide-Drug Nanoparticles, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2009, 131, pp. 4744 - 4754.
  2. Rong Tong, Jianjun Cheng, Paclitaxel-Initiated, Controlled Polymerization of Lactide for the Formulation of Polymeric Nanoparticulate Delivery Vehicles, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2008, 47, pp. 4830 - 4834.
  3. Rong Tong, Linda Yala, Timothy M. Fan, Jianjun Cheng, The Formulation of Aptamer-Coated Paclitaxel-Polylactide Nanoconjugates and their Targeting to Cancer Cells, Biomaterials, 2010, 31, pp. 3043 - 3053.
  4. L. Tang, Timothy M. Fan, L. B. Borst, Jianjun Cheng, Drug-Conjugated Silica Nanoparticle with Precisely Controlled Size Enhances Tumor Penetration. In preparation 2011.
  5. Zehui Cao, Rong Tong, Abhijit Mishra, Weichen Xu, Gerard C. L. Wong, Jianjun Cheng, Yi Lu, Reversible Cell-Specific Drug Delivery with Aptamer-Functionalized Liposomes, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2009, 48, pp. 6494 - 6498.


  1. J. Wang, H. Lu, M. Morton, Jianjun Cheng, Y. Lin, Structural Variations in Helical Polypeptide Chains in Macromolecules with Complex Architecture. Submitted or in preparation 2011.
  2. H. Lu, J. Wang, Y. Bai, J. Lang, L. Yao, J. Cheng, Ionic Polypeptides with Unusual Helical Stability. Submitted or in preparation 2011.
  3. N. Gabrielson, J. Cheng, Oligoarginine-Containing Lipoplex for Non-Viral Gene Delivery. Submitted or in preparation 2011.
  4. J. Azzi, L. Tang, R. Tong, N.E. Haddad, T. Akiyoshi, B. Mfarrej, R. Moore, S. Yang, M. Jurewicz, T. Ichimura, N. Lindeman, Jianjun Cheng, R. Abdi, Polylactide-Cyclosporin A Nanoparticles for Targeted Immunosuppression. Submitted or in preparation 2011.
  5. R. Tong, N. Gabrielson, Jianjun Cheng, Polymeric Nanomedicine Based on Poly(lactide) and Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid). Submitted or in preparation 2011.
  6. R. Tong, Jianjun Cheng, Paclitaxel Initiated Controlled Ring-Opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters and Carbonates. Submitted or in preparation 2011.
  7. R. Tong, Jianjun Cheng, Efficient Regioselective O-Acylation of Therapeutic Agents Mediated by Zinc Catalyst for Bioconjugation and Drug Delivery. Submitted or in preparation 2011.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Jianjun Cheng (2011), "Illinois BioNanotechnology Seminar Series Spring 2011: Development of Anticancer Medicine,"

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