Developing Biologics for Targeting Inflammatory Cells to Treat Myocardial Infarction and Cancer

Date(s) - 12/14/2018
10:00 am

Juliane Nguyen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Inflammatory monocytes and macrophages contribute to the progression of many pathophysiological conditions, including myocardial infarction and cancer. In this talk I will focus on two delivery platforms that my lab developed for modulating the function of inflammatory cells.

The first platform uses engineered exosomes to regenerate the infarcted myocardium. An increasing number of studies report that mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes have regenerative effects. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of this are poorly characterized. Using microRNA profiling and network analysis, we identified the dominant biological processes and pathways modulated by exosomal miRNAs. Further, to improve upon the intrinsic biological effects of MSC exosomes, we developed molecular zip codes, termed EXO-Codes, for actively loading exosomes with therapeutic cargo.

The second platform utilizes single-chain variable fragment antibodies for polarizing tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) to tumor suppressors. TAMs promote tumor growth by suppressing the immune system, forming new blood vessels, increasing cancer cell growth, and enhancing migration and metastasis. Given their pleiotropic and malignant effects, researchers have been attempting to abolish TAMs from the tumor microenvironment. However, without a complete blockade of macrophage infiltration, these efforts remain frustratingly ineffective. To address this, we have developed a platform that both inhibits migration and polarizes TAMs to the tumor suppressive phenotype.


Juliane Nguyen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. Her lab develops novel protein-, RNA-, and lipid-based biochemical and delivery platforms for treating myocardial infarction and cancer. Dr. Nguyen’s research has been recognized through the Biomedical Breakthrough Award, the UB Exceptional Scholar Young Investigator Award, and the NSF CAREER Award. She received her PharmD and her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Philipps-University of Marburg (Germany), where she was mentored by Dr. Thomas Kissel. She then trained at UCSF under Dr. Frank Szoka, where she was a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Postdoctoral Fellow.