Blaise Kimmel, PhD
Optimizing Chemical Designs for Effective Delivery of Cancer Immunotherapies
Traditional treatments for cancer patients often have damaging effects to patient health and outcomes. To combat this challenge, a new class of therapies — termed immunotherapies — offers selective targeting of cancerous tissue. However, more than 25% of cancer patients have tumors that evade the immune system, making it challenging for this treatment platform to identify the tumor and limiting universalization of this therapy. An area of opportunity exists to build a therapy that enables immune cells to recognize hidden tumors. My research focuses on the development of a cancer immunotherapy platform that trains immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells, without damaging healthy tissue. This is achieved by integrating elements from engineering design into the biological space to build nanocarriers that can selectively activate within a tumor, recruiting immune cells to the tumor site. This project will explore how to improve outcomes for patients by minimizing the dose required, optimizing the amount of time that the immunotherapy remains in the body, and teaching immune cells to regain surveillance of cancerous cells before metastasis may occur.
The PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Drug Delivery catalyzed my pathway to independence as a researcher. It allows me to be financially independent and fully focus on uncovering the chemical design elements necessary for effective drug delivery of immunomodulators.