Therapeutic modulation of myeloid immune cells

Nanotechnology holds an enormous potential to become the most important scientific discipline of the current century. Nanomedicines nowadays represent the most frequently used chemotherapeutic drug. In general, nanomedicine offers the possibility of reducing side effects based on targeted delivery. Rising in parallel with nanomedicine, immunotherapy of cancer has experienced a major breakthrough in cancer immunotherapeutics targeting programmed cell death (PD1). While lymphoid cells are already being engaged, treatment of myeloid cells is far less explored. We believe that immunomodulatory nanomedicines will become increasingly important in future and thus focus our research on the interactions between immune cells and nanomaterials. It is our vision to steadily improve molecular tools to modulation myeloid cell activation. Targeted delivery of drugs to macrophages is feasible due to their intrinsic scavenging activities and is an efficient route of delivery.

In the past, we have successfully treated acute liver disease using liposomal carriers for corticosteroids which induced M2-MΦ:

Two representative projects

Novel treatment options for inflammatory liver disease

Our lab studies the effects of nanomaterials on immune cell activation, especially with the intention to reprogram macrophages in diseases, since 2007. Recent groundbreaking studies include successful treatment of acute liver disease using encapsulated corticosteroids (Bartneck et al. 2015, Biomaterials). Nanocarriers to engage macrophage subpopulations are being explored with Dr. Ruchi Bansal of Biomaterials Science and Technology- Targeted Therapeutics at Twente University in the Netherlands. Comprehensive modulation of myeloid cell migration is a project currently perform with Dr. Isabella Tavernaro from Saarland University.

Targeting myeloid cells in hepatocellular carinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) typically arises in fibrotic or cirrhotic livers that exhibit a pathologic angiogenesis. Myeloid immune cells, specifically tumor-associated macrophages (TAM), may represent potential novel therapeutic targets in HCC, complementing current ablative or immune therapies, because macrophages can contribute to fibrosis, angiogenesis, HCC development and progression. Yet, the detailed functions of TAM subsets, especially their hepatic localization and molecular activation, in these processes have remained obscure. We analyze the localizations of different macrophage subsets in human liver sections and perform experimental models to study innovative interventions.

Recent book chapters

Current and rising concepts in immunotherapy: biopharmaceuticals vs. nanomedicines. Dr. Matthias Bartneck (Author). R. Bawa, J. Szebeni, T. Webster and G. F. Audette (Editors). Book title: Immune Aspects of Biopharmaceuticals and Nanomedicines, Pan Stanford Publishing, Singapore (2018) [ISBN 978-981-4774-52-9 (Hardbound), 978-0-203-73153-6 (eBook)]

Editorial activities