Antigen-Glycopolymer Conjugates: Engineering Immunity and Tolerance

Date(s) - 02/04/2019
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Communicore, C1-17

Scott Wilson, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Molecular Engineering, The University of Chicago

Since Edward Jenner first used puss from a milkmaid’s cowpox lesions to inoculate children against smallpox in the late 1700’s, scientist have sought to develop safe and effective antigen-specific immunotherapies (ASI)s that bias the adaptive immune response towards immunity (i.e., vaccines), and, more recently, tolerance (i.e., inverse vaccines). While considerable progress has been made in the development of vaccines that muster antibody-mediated immunity,  the clinical success of other ASIs, such as subunit vaccines that elicit T cell-mediated immunity and inverse vaccines capable of curing autoimmunity, have yet to match their pre-clinical promise. Here, I will introduce approaches that utilized synthetic polymeric glycosylations to target antigens and immunostimulatory adjuvants to specific subsets of antigen presenting cells for the induction of antigen-specific immunity or tolerance.  In the context of immunity, I will present a polymeric glycol-adjuvant that when conjugated to a malaria-specific protein induces a more robust antibody- and T cell-mediated immune response than malaria-specific protein formulated with the adjuvant used in the most clinical advanced malaria vaccine.  In addition, I will highlight the development of another class of synthetic glycopolymers that, by targeting autoantigens to the liver’s immunosuppressive microenvironment, elicit durable autoantigen-specific immunological tolerance marked by auto-reactive T cell anergy and functional regulatory T cells.  In concert, these antigen-glycopolymer conjugate platforms represent promising clinically-viable treatments for a variety of complex infections and autoimmune disorders.


Scott Wilson earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011.  While at Georgia Tech, Scott worked with Professor Niren Murthy developing drug delivery platforms for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, cranial re-synostosis, acute lung injury, and osteoarthritis.  As a postdoc in Professor Jeffery A. Hubbell’s Laboratory (first, Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne then at the University of Chicago), Scott’s research has focused on the synthesis and preclinical validation of subunit vaccines that elicit cellular immunity against infections and malignancy, as well as disease-modifying inverse vaccines for autoimmunity.  His postdoc has been supported by the Whitaker International Program.