User:Benjamin Y. Ko

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Benjamin Y. Ko
Department of Chemical Engineering
Shriram Center
443 Via Ortega
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-5025

I work in the Swartz Lab at Stanford University.


  • 2010--present, PhD candidate, Stanford University
  • 2003, MS Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
  • 2002, BS Chemical Engineering, Stanford University

Research interests

  1. Protein engineering
  2. Cell-free protein synthesis
  3. Antibody purification

Prostate cancer is an increasingly prevalent disease for which improved methods of tumor detection are needed in order for new treatment options to be truly safe and effective. My project aims to introduce a novel tool for prostate tumor detection by engineering virus-like particles (VLPs) which are loaded with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles and surface-coated with antibody fragments. The SPIO nanoparticles, as effective MRI contrast agents, lend sensitivity to these VLP constructs, while the antibody fragments, with affinity to prostate cancer cell surface markers such as PSMA, give the VLPs the ability to target prostate cancer cells with high specificity. Such engineered VLPs have the potential to enable clinicians to make earlier and more accurate diagnoses of prostate cancer, thus helping to improve the survival rate for this deadly disease. The goals of my research are to develop SPIO nanoparticles which are suitable for loading into VLPs, develop production and loading methods for the VLPs, and, in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Medicine, demonstrate the efficacy of these constructs in murine studies.



Lu Yuan, Wei Chan, Benjamin Y. Ko, Christopher C. VanLang, and James R. Swartz. 2015. “Assessing sequence plasticity of a virus-like nanoparticle by evolution toward a versatile scaffold for vaccines and drug delivery.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 112(40), 12360-12365. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1510533112 PMID: 26392546

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