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Bioengineering Seminar Spring 2021:NanoEngineering gone viral: plant virus-based therapeutics

March 3 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D., Professor, NanoEngineering Director, Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering, UC San Diego
Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D.
Professor, NanoEngineering
Director, Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering
UC San Diego
Nanoscale engineering is revolutionizing the way we detect, prevent and treat diseases. Viruses are playing a special role in these developments because they can function as prefabricated nanoparticles. We utilize and build-upon the high-precision assemblies of the viral capsids and utilize them as platform technologies, engineered and repurposed for a desired function. More specifically, we turned toward plant viruses as a platform nanotechnology. 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 applications targeting human, veterinary and plant health. Through chemical biology, we have developed virus-based delivery systems carrying medically-relevant cargo enabling tissue-specific imaging and treatment. A particular exciting avenue is the development of plant virus-like particle platforms for cancer immunotherapy. The idea pursued is an ‘in situ vaccination’ to stimulate local and systemic anti-tumor immune responses to treat established disease, and most importantly to induce immune memory to protect patients from outgrowth of metastasis and recurrence of the disease. Another avenue is the repurposing of plant viruses to enable plant health; we employ principles of nanomedicine to target pesticides residing deep in the soil therefore challenging to reach using contemporary pesticides. I will highlight engineering design principles employed to synthesize the next-generation nanotherapeutics using plant virus-based platform technologies, and I will discuss the evaluation of such in preclinical mouse models and canine patients as well as in the agricultural arena.