Hijacking Macrophage Activation to Control Gene Delivery

Date(s) - 01/14/2019
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Communicore, C1-17

Elizabeth Wayne, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Nanoparticle development has rejuvenated the field of gene delivery. However, as nanoformulations advance for animal and human use, there must be considerations for its interactions with the immune system. Macrophages are key members of the innate immune system. They are spatially and functionally heterogeneous cells and become activated based on the environmental stimuli present. Macrophage activation can be described as a series of genetic, morphological, and functional changes which results in phenotypic activity changes characterized by cytokine secretion, phagocytosis activity, migration/chemotaxis, and proliferation. Because macrophages recognize and respond to foreign substances, nanoparticles are often phagocytosed by macrophages, independent of whether they are the intended target. This talk explores macrophage polarization affects the fate of those nanoformulations. Specifically, this talk  explores the how polarized macrophages can be used to deliver siRNA via transient horizontal transfer. These results yield insight into potential strategies for design of other oligonucleotide nanoformulations and the development of cell based therapies.


Dr. Elizabeth Wayne is an award-winning biomedical engineer, TED Fellow, speaker, and advocate for women in higher education. She is also the co-host of the show PhDivas Podcast.

Dr. Wayne received her bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and Moelis Access Science Scholar. Dr. Wayne continued her education at Cornell University, where her research on the role of immune cells in cancer progression and their potential as drug delivery carriers was supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute Physical Sciences in Oncology Network and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2016, Dr. Wayne earned her PhD in biomedical engineering where her work in immune cell-mediated drug delivery resulted in several publications and a technology patent. Dr. Wayne’s current research uses macrophages to delivery therapeutic genes to solid tumors.

Dr. Wayne is currently a National Cancer Institute Cancer Nanotechnology Training Program Postdoctoral Fellow in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was recognized as a 2017 TED Fellow for her cancer nanotechnology research and efforts to amplify voices of women in leadership and higher education through her podcast PhDivas. Dr. Wayne has been featured in various publications including Bust Magazine, Cornell Chronicle, and the LA Times.