FIP Special Seminar: Postdoc Speaker Award "Synergistic Immuno Photothermal Nanotherapy (SYMPHONY) for Cancer Treatment"

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Wed, 02/06/2019 - 12:00 to 13:00

Dr. Yang Liu


Dr. Yang Liu, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University

Cancer is a severe threat to human health with more than eight million deaths, and over one trillion US dollars cost each year. There is an urgent need for new methods to improve cancer management. Activating the immune system has long been a goal in oncology, and recently immunotherapy has emerged as one of the most promising cancer treatment breakthroughs. We have developed a new cancer therapy named as Synergistic Immuno Photothermal Nanotherapy (SYMPHONY) by combining gold nanostars (GNS)-mediated cancer ablation with checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy (Figure 1). GNS nanoparticle has multiple sharp branches for tip-enhanced plasmonics and tunable plasmonic peak in the near-infrared (NIR) tissue optical window. It is a superior photon-to-heat conversion transducer for photothermal therapy with NIR light. Our group has innovated a toxic chemical-free method to synthesize GNS nanoparticles and apply the biocompatible GNS nanoparticles for SYMPHONY therapy. In vivo experiment results demonstrate that our superior GNS-mediated photothermal therapy dramatically amplifies the anti-cancer immune response in synergy with checkpoint blockade targeting PD-1 and its ligand PD-L1. This treatment results in tumor shrinkage at both local heated and distant unheated sites and prevents tumor growth at rechallenge, implying both abscopal (regression of distant untreated tumors) effect and anti-cancer vaccine effect. Until now, SYMPHONY therapy has been successfully applied for bladder cancer, breast cancer and brain cancer treatment in murine animal models. Our novel SYMPHONY therapy has promise to dramatically advance cancer immunotherapy efficacy.