For any drug, diagnostic, or gene therapy application, the ultimate goal is to target these agents to the cells in need of detection or therapy while avoiding delivery into non-target tissues. While this is the goal, many of these agents cannot specifically target the cells we want and frequently mistarget into problematic tissues reducing therapy and increasing dangerous side effects.
Our laboratory works on developing safer and more specific therapeutics and vaccines, with an emphasis on developing agents that target specific cells in the body. For gene therapy applications, our aim is to enhance the specificity of vectors to increase therapeutic delivery to the cells in need of genetic modification, while reducing gene delivery into bystander cells. For gene-based vaccine applications, our current goal is to identify potent antigens and enhance the ability of vaccines to deliver antigens into mucosal sites and into dendritic cells to maximize barrier protection at mucosal surfaces against HIV-1, influenza, and bioweapons.
Towards these cell goals, we are interested in:
- Developing high throughput systems to identify cell-targeting ligands to target drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, and gene delivery vectors
- Developing genetic and chemical engineering approaches to rapidly and effectively translate cell-targeting ligands onto gene therapy vectors
- Developing genetic and chemical engineering of viral vectors to reduce promiscuous cell interactions and to blunt dangerous immunologic side effects.
- Developing effective methods to track and screen cell-targeting ligands and cell-targeting vectors by imaging in living animals
- Vaccine antigen discovery and optimization using Expression Library Immunization (ELI)