The development of pharmacologically active compounds is rapidly growing and a great progress in the treatment of many diseases has been made. However, several drugs lack of specificity to their target tissue, leading to poor efficiency and increased cytotoxicity to the healthy surrounding tissue. Furthermore, treatments options for diseases of the central nervous system, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are still poor. Drug delivery systems can ensure an organ-specific transport, even with the brain as target tissue, and simultaneously decrease the cytotoxicity of therapeutic agents.
We are investigating cell-penetrating peptoids as organelle- and organ-specific carrier molecules. Peptoids mimic the structure of their peptidic counterparts, by maintaining the ability to penetrate cells, but display increased stability in vivo. Fluorescent labeling of peptoids provides the possibility for microscopic analysis of cellular uptake and organ-specific localization in zebrafish larvae as model organism. We develop and evaluate high-throughput approaches for the screening and evaluation of large and diverse peptoid libraries to elucidate structure-function relationships and identify specific carrier molecules.