Anya Flood Taylor Wins Early Research/Creative Endeavor Award
Second-year Biochemistry student Anya Flood Taylor has recently won an Early Research/Creative Endeavor Award for her project titled “Fine Tuning Cryogel Scaffolds for Cancer Immunotherapy”.
In the context of cancer, the immune system often fails to distinguish tumor cells as foreign or fails to elicit a strong enough response to prevent it from spreading. To overcome this challenge, scientists have developed immunotherapies, or treatments that stimulate the immune system to specifically attack tumors. One type of immunotherapy, cancer vaccines, present tumors or portions of tumors to the immune system such that they are recognized as “non-self”, consequently eliciting an immune response against the tumor. Injectable biomaterials have been explored as a platform for such cancer vaccines, and cryogels have been proven to be minimally invasive and degradable.
Injectable cryogels have been shown to provide a space for dendritic cells (DC) to interface with loaded tumor cells and thus stimulate specific T-cell and B-cell immune responses. Injectable cryogels utilize immunomodulators to activate and recruit DCs that subsequently stimulate immune responses, however, the DC activating and recruiting factors (GM-CSF and CpG-ODN) have been shown to have lower than ideal encapsulation efficiencies (EE) and temporal profiles. My project will improve upon previous findings regarding the use of injectable cryogels for cancer immunotherapy, as I plan on altering the physical packaging of these two immunomodulators to optimize their EEs and kinetic release so as to more effectively target tumors.
Anya is currently a member of the Bencherif LAMP Biomaterials Labratory and is interested in immunotherapeutic biomaterials and drug delivery. Congratulations Anya!