Unlock the adaptive immune repertoire by controlling innate immunity with biomaterials

The immune system consists of two parts: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. T cells and B cells in the adaptive immune system are two major players to mount an antigen-specific defense and offer long-term protection. However, due to the immune tolerance and immunodominance mechanisms, some T cells and B cells can recognize the antigens but couldn’t develop effective immune responses.

My research focus is using synthetic biomaterials to engineer the innate immune system and unlock the non-responsive adaptive immune repertoire for new cancer immunotherapies and infectious disease vaccines. In this seminar, two examples illustrating my research work will be described. In the first example, I develop a toll-like receptor 7 agonist-based nanoparticle (TLR7-NP) adjuvant to alter germinal center (GC) signaling and induce high levels of cross-reactive antibody responses to multiple heterologous viral variants of influenza and SARS-CoV-2.

The second example is to design a nanoparticle platform to reverse the anergy of tumor infiltrating self-specific CD8+ T cells for creating a new and effective immunotherapeutic strategy for treating broad cancer patients.