Novel nanostructures for anti-cancer immunotherapy

Project: Research project

Project Details


Novel nanostructures for anti-cancer immunotherapy Novel nanostructures for anti-cancer immunotherapy Despite some advancement made on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and colon cancer, the mortality rate of lung cancer and ovarian cancer cancers remains high. The lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S, while ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Recently, cancer immunotherapy has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. As an immunologist, one of my research directions is to search for effective immune modulators that can enhance human immunity against cancer and infectious diseases. Through interdisciplinary collaboration with Dr. Hao Yan, who is a DNA chemist, we have discovered a novel nanostructure that could activate the host immune system to mount strong anti-cancer immunity, leading to the reduction of tumor growth and even complete tumor regression in tumor-bearing animals (as shown in Figure 1, Supplemental Information). Importantly, this potent anti-tumor activity is without side-effects, unlike the side-effects observed from several conventional immune stimulators which can only be applied locally to avoid systemic toxicity. In addition, our nanostructure has superior structural stability that extends its shelf-life, and could be readily scaled up for a large production at reduced-cost. Finally, the immune activation profile elicited by this nanostructure also makes it a great candidate for treating viral infection and other infectious diseases. Thus, this nanostructure represents a new line of synthetic immune activators with unprecedented advantages over the others in the pipeline. Furthermore, our technology that enables rational design and robust optimization of these nanostructures will revolutionize drug development, shortening the discovery time. Given its unique structural features and promising tumor-inhibitory activities, we have recently filed several patent applications on these nanostructures and their associated technology through ASU Skysong Innovation. In this application, we will focus on two lines of work: 1) to modify the nanostructures for higher therapeutic potency against highly malignant ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung carcinoma, both of which are difficult to treat and have poor outcomes; 2) to combine our immune modulators with chemotherapy and/or other immune modulators to synergize the anti-cancer activity. These pre-clinical studies will help generate information critical to the bench-to-bed translation. This endeavor helps put ASU on the map of new drug development. Meanwhile, the cross-disciplinary collaboration, under which the proposed study will be pursued, provides an excellent environment for student training, better preparing them for future challenges. Therefore, our effort is in line with ASU 2020 Alignment, i.e., striving for excellence and innovation, access to the students, and ultimate therapeutics for greater good of the society.
Effective start/end date6/1/195/31/21


  • Women and Philanthropy: $89,113.00


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