Nano-immuno-oncology is an emerging cross field that harnesses nanotechnology’s unique synergy with immunology to advance cancer immunotherapy. Human immune system has evolved to sense and respond to nano- and micro-particulates (e.g., viruses, bacteria). Through the versatile control of composition, size, shape, and surface properties of nanoparticles, nano-immune-engineering approaches are uniquely positioned to mount appropriate immune responses against cancer. Our lab is leveraging the all-or-nothing protonation cooperativity of the ultra-pH sensitive nanoparticles to augment the cancer-immunity cycle toward anti-tumor immunity. These efforts include T cell activation in lymph nodes by coordinating cytosolic delivery of tumor antigens to dendritic cells with simultaneous activation of stimulator of interferon genes (STING), or tumor-targeted delivery of acidotic inhibitors to overcome T cell retardation. Recently, we discovered PC7A polymer as a polyvalent STING agonist that stimulates prolonged production of proinflammatory cytokines with improved dendritic cell-T cell priming over natural STING ligand. Through an NCI-sponsored U54 Nano-Immune-Engineering Center Award, we are integrating molecular immunology, biomedical engineering and clinical oncology to advance cancer immunotherapy.
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