Nicole Steinmetz*

 

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine,
Ohio, USA
nicole.steinmetz@case.du

 

Nanoscale engineering is revolutionizing the way we prevent, detect and treat diseases. Viruses are playing a special role in these developments because they can function as prefabricated nanoparticles naturally evolved to deliver cargos to cells and tissues. We have developed a library of plant virus-based nanoparticles and through structure-function studies we are beginning to understand how to tailor these materials appropriately for biomedical applications. Through synthetic biology, we have developed virus-based delivery system carrying contrast agent and/or therapeutic cargo enabling molecular imaging and therapeutic applications targeting cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A particular exciting avenue is the development of virus-like particle platforms for cancer immunotherapy. The idea pursued is an ‘in situ vaccination’ to stimulate local and systemic anti-tumor immune response to treat established disease, and most importantly to induce immune memory to protect patients from outgrowth of metastasis and recurrence of the disease. I will highlight engineering design principles employed to synthesize the next-generation nanotherapeutics using virus-based platform technology, and I will discuss the evaluation of such in preclinical models.