The Steinmetz Lab’s mission is to push to new frontiers in medicine and bio-nanotechnology through design, development and testing of materials and biologics derived from plant viruses. Our vision is the translation of promising candidates into clinical and commercial applications.
Next-generation nanotechnology depends upon the capacity to precisely alter size and shape of nanostructured features with temporal and spatial control. Nanoscale self-assembly is a technique that Nature masters with atomic precision; using this principle, we turned toward the study and application of plant viruses as an approach to generate highly structured nanoparticles with new functionalities. Viruses are playing a special role in nanotechnology and nanomedicine, because they can function as prefabricated nanoparticles naturally evolved to deliver cargos to cells and tissues. We have developed a library of plant virus-based nanoparticles and through structure-function studies we are beginning to understand how to tailor these nanomaterials appropriately for biomedical applications.
Research is organized into several interconnected research thrusts:
- Vaccines and immunotherapies targeting cancer, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases.
- Drug delivery targeting cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Molecular imaging and theranostic approaches to treat cancer.
- Precision farming and agricultural nanotechnology.
- Living materials and plant cyborgs.
Please also see our Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering (nanoie.ucsd.edu)
Molecular farming and plant virus-based nanoparticles
Vaccines and Immunotherapy
Plant virus cancer immunotherapy. We demonstrated that nanoparticlesfrom a harmless plant virus, namely Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) stimulate apotent antitumor immune response in mouse models of melanoma, ovarian cancer,breast cancer, colon cancer and glioma. When thesenanoparticles are used as cancer immunotherapy and applied by intratumoralinjection, systemic and durable anti-tumor efficacy is achieved withimmunological memory to prevent metastatic disease and/or recurrence . Ongoing trials in companiondogs with melanoma indicate that the potent antitumor efficacy of the plantvirus-derived nanoparticles can be replicated in these animals . It isimportant to understand that the nanoparticle-stimulated immune-mediatedanti-tumor response is not limited totreatment of the identified, injectable tumor; our data indicate that the treatmentinduces a systemic, immune-mediated anti-tumor response against unrecognizedmetastases and protect patients from recurrence of the disease.
Drug delivery targeting human health
Molecular imaging and theranostics
Precision farming and agricultural nanotechnology
This is a new research direction... more information will follow shortly.