Orchestrate Cellular Dynamics for Immune Modulations

Generation of protective immune responses is a multi-step process that involves complex cellular interactions. Recent advances in immunobiology revealed several key aspects crucial for functional immune responses. For example, strong antibody responses often requires that CD4+ T cells provide biochemical signals to B cells to facilitate and instruct downstream actions. Many studies, including our previous study, showed the importance of CD4+ T cells in antibody generations.

Many important interactions either between different immune cells or between cells and antigens are shown to be tunable using engineering strategies. By varying delivery approaches, vaccine formulations, and antigen design, researchers have gained remarkable control over the magnitude and breadth of the elicited immune functions. The field of immune engineering arises from those pioneer studies combining both immunobiology and engineering.

Our team at Syracuse particularly focuses on designing synthetic biomaterials to engage specific immune cells based on their receptor specificity or antigen specificity to amplify or attenuate immune responses for various therapeutic applications, including cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmune conditions.

Regulate Local Immune Responses for Disease Treatments

Sustained tissue pathologies, such as malignancies and autoimmune conditions, often produce abnormal local immune microenvironment through unresolved inflammation and other pathways, which provide vicious feedback that further drives disease progression. One notorious example is the immune suppressive microenvironment in tumor tissues, which can block immune cell infiltrations and inhibit local immune cell functions, resulting in ineffective treatments for many patients.

Recent progress in clinical immunobiology has uncovered many regulatory pathways that can potentially be utilized to boost local immune functions for disease treatments. Checkpoint blockade therapy is one of the most successful examples in this area. We have also demonstrated an effective multi-epitope vaccine cancer therapy combined with this checkpoint blockade approach in a recent publication. However, strategies to fully leverage these pathways remain limited.

We are particularly interested in designing biomaterial platforms that facilitate the delivery of biological cues to either drive immune cell infiltrations or suppress local immune cell activities for different disease conditions.

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