Professor Joseph M. DeSimone
Professor Joseph M. DeSimone Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University
So if we can rescue drugs or deliver drugs, like chemotherapy agents, more effectively, there's a profound effect. The opportunity for limiting side effects in cancer. The opportunity for more effective delivery, so you get the drug where you want it, when you want it, in the amount you want it could be really profound for oncology. In vaccine research, it's interesting, first generation vaccines were sort of whole pathogens, live attenuated pathogens. These are bacteria and viruses. These are objects that have shape, a certain elasticity, and a certain chemistry on their surface. Well, people like those because those vaccines work well, but you had side effects. You actually could get the disease if they weren’t all attenuated or killed properly.
So second generation vaccines were so-called subunit vaccines. People stripping off some molecules off the surface of a bacteria and delivering those molecules as a vaccine. They worked well. There's no danger of getting the disease, but we know that your immune system recognizes objects and processes objects differently than molecules. So our sort of hypothesis is can we recapitulate the object aspects of the whole pathogen by making basically wax figures of them and coating and decorating them with the molecules from the subunit vaccines to present these molecules to the immune system in a vehicle that looks much more like the pathogen than a small molecule.
And so that's what we think is going to be the great opportunity for increasing the efficacy of vaccines and do it in a modular way than one kind of plug and play approach to tackle a wide range of diseases and cancer even.
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