Tom Anchordoquy PhD

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
I joined the faculty at the CU School of Pharmacy in 1998, and my early work focused on the stability of lipid-DNA complexes during freezing and drying. In attempting to assess “recovery” of these new pharmaceutical entities, I became interested in the mechanism by which they facilitated delivery to target cells. In over a decade of work, we eventually realized that these particles were being avidly taken up by circulating immune cells that elicited a potent cytokine response upon intravenous injection. In addition to our work attempting to exploit exosomes for drug delivery, our current projects investigate strategies that harness the nanoparticle-induced immune response to limit off-target accumulation of nanomedicines and promote tumor regression. In addition to these projects, my lab is constantly involved in multiple formulation studies that utilize small molecules to treat a variety of diseases.

Milk Exosomes. This project starts with the observation that mammalian mothers use exosomes in their milk to transfer large molecules (e.g., antibodies) from their baby’s gut into the blood. Because bovine antibodies cross-react with the human Fc receptor, cow exosomes can be used to transport therapeutic molecules from a patient’s gut to their blood. This potentially would enable a variety of molecules (chemotherapeutics, peptides, RNA) to be administered orally instead of via IV infusion. This would reduce the need for patients to travel to infusion centers and/or hospitals for treatment.



Endothelial Tightening. This project exploits the fact that gene delivery vehicles elicit an antiviral response when administered systemically, i.e., the body reacts as if it is being infected. As a mechanism of limiting the spread of infection, the body signals the vascular endothelium to limit particle uptake. However, we have observed that the immunosuppressed state of the tumor prevents this effect, thereby allowing particles to preferentially access the tumor while reducing accumulation in non-target tissues. We are currently characterizing this phenomenon and will utilize this to improve nanoparticle-mediated delivery to tumors.



Stimulating an Antitumor Response. It has been knows for decades that the administration of gene delivery vehicles stimulates a potent immune response that can be used to shrink tumors. While these effects are quite remarkable, the tumors ultimately grow back. This project focuses on combining this effect with antibiotics that target bacteria that live within the tumor to delay and potentially prevent cancer recurrence.



Lyophilization of mRNA Vaccines. The pandemic has brought mRNA technology to the forefront and the requirement that the vaccine be shipped and stored in the frozen state limits distribution within the U.S. and abroad. While our laboratory has conducted many studies with DNA, our most recent investigation into lyophilization and storage stability involves mRNA-lipid complexes. As part of this work, we are developing methods to quantitatively evaluate the degradation of mRNA.


jamie betker

Jamie Betker, Professional Research Assistant - Jamie has been working on various projects in lab for 12 years. She has been in many previous labs including University of Colorado, University of Washington, and Cornell University. She is primarily an experimentalist.

catherine nicholls

Catherine Nicholls, BS, Professional Research Assistant - Catherine received a Bachelor of Sciences (BS) degree in Neuroscience from Baylor University in 2019, and joined the Anchordoquy lab in March of 2020. While studying neuroscience, she fell in love with organic chemistry, pharmacology, and the pharmaceutical sciences. After graduating, she worked in clinical sleep research and volunteered in a behavioral neuroscience lab at CU Boulder. She wanted to move into bench- based and animal-based research, and soon after joined the Anchordoquy lab. Catherine looks forward to pursuing her PhD in Neuropharmacology in the coming years. She is currently working on using exosomes from cow milk for oral delivery of chemotherapeutics.


Madison Ricco, PharmD, Graduate Student - Madison is a 2022 PharmD graduate who has been working in Dr. Anchordoquy's lab since her first year at Anschutz in 2018. While a pharmacy student, she was awarded the American Foundation of Pharmaceutical Education's 2021 Gateway to Research Award for her work on alternative dosage forms of chemotherapy. Madison has been a core member of the milk exosome project and is now a graduate student in Dr. Anchordoquy's lab working on her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences.


Scott Tilden, Graduate Student - Scott is a Colorado native from Golden. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a BA in Biochemistry and a BA in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology. After graduation, Scott worked at CU Boulder for four years in the Maier/Watkins Neuroscience Laboratory and the Hough Biochemical and Biophysical Laboratory. Scott started at Anschutz in fall 2018 and joined Dr. Anchordoquy’s lab in the spring of 2019. Scott’s main interest is investigating how to induce anti-viral responses to manipulate endothelial permeability and reduce off-target toxicity/accumulation of nanomedicines. He and Dr. Anchordoquy have also working closely with a local epilepsy research company to develop novel formulation of anticonvulsant pharmaceuticals to be used in clinical trials.

AlumnusCurrent Organization
Jasmina RedzicUniversity of Colorado
Nicole PaytonGlaxoSmithKline
Tyson SmythNektar Therapeutics
Max KullbergUniversity of Alaska
Long XuJohnson and Johnson
Matt FeteChicago State University
Marion MolinaCureVac
Mayank PatelAstrazeneca
Yvonne LentzBristol Meyers Squibb
Ye ZhangMerck