Son Laboratory is interested in elucidating how biomaterials interact with biological environment and coordinate biological/immunological functions, in order to better deal with the complexity of disease progression. As disease is getting complicated, our team seeks to design, construct, and evaluate an unique, sophisticated bio- and nano-systems capable of interacting with disease microenvironment to promote the precise action of biopharmaceuticals including genes, vaccine components, and antibodies. With solid ground on PI's diverse research and educational backgrounds covering biomaterials, bioengineering, micro- and nanotechnologies, immune-oncology and gene therapy, our team aims to develop new and multidisciplinary biomaterials-based tools and principles to modulate immune responses and promote the precise action of biopharmaceuticals for cancer, infectious disease, and autoimmune disease. The proposed studies will not only contribute to understanding of largely unexplored interdisciplinary research areas of material science, immunology and cancer biology, but also promote clinical translation of new immunotherapies.
Among many other reasons, a root reason of current cancer therapy failure is based on genetic mutations acquired in healthy cells that sequentially make changes in genome. Many mutations are acquired in a random fashion and the random nature of this mutation has two consequences. One is that every patient has a different cancer. And the second consequence is that every tumor cell within a cancer is a different entity. These cancer cells in advanced stage are at least 1 billion different cells. Even further, they are able to adapt and resist to the treatment and metastasize. The way we treat cancer today, however, ignore this complexity and is not able to deal with the plasticity of the cancer.
So the next question is then, there a solution to deal with this complexity?
Neoantigen cancer vaccine will be a first, true sense of personalized cancer treatment
Now we are entering new era of cancer medicine into the true sense of personalized precision cancer medicine from conventional approach so called one-size-fit all medicine and targeted therapy to stratified patient to improve therapeutic outcome. Thanks to deep sequencing, now we are able to identify patient-specific cancer-neoantigens, that are ready to be given to patient in time about 6-10 weeks. In 2017, the two research groups from the US and German reported the results of the first human clinical trials of neoantigen-based cancer vaccines, one used peptide-based and the other used mRNA-based vaccines. The therapeutic outcome was promising despite the need for improvement, showing feasibility, safety and immunotherapeutic activity of targeting individual tumor mutations. And now the field reasonably expect that the neoantigen cancer vaccine may become the ever first true personalized treatment for cancer.
Son laboratory aims to develop unique and highly multidisciplinary cancer engineering strategy that can better deal with the complexity of tumor microenvironment (TME) for cancer precision medicine.
1. Personalized cacner vaccine technology
2. Gene therapy to up and down regulate multiple pathways of immune suppressive mechanisms within tumor microenvironment
3. Ultrasound technology to physically disrupt tumor ECMs and/or provok immune response
Emerging mRNA therapeutics
Son laboratory has expertise in developing versatile gene delivery systems. We leverage the delivery tools to address a range of technical challenges that RNA therapeutics have in the clinic.
1. mRNA-based vaccine development
2. Therapeutic antibody-encoding mRNA for cancer immunotherapy
3. mRNA therapeutics for undruggable target
In vivo immune cell engineering
Son laboratory aims to develop various immune cell subset engineering strategies for cancer, inflammation, and immune tolerance.
1. Dendritic cells (DCs) targeting for CD8 and CD4 T cells targeting vaccine development
2. Macrophage engineering to repolarize tumor associated macrophages (TAMs)
3. Neutrophils (granulocytes) engineering for cancer and inflammation