Nanotaxies for Fighting Cancer

Sean David Allen

#67 Under the Microscope | Nanotaxies for Fighting CancerPranoti | Sean
00:00 / 05:08

Postdoctoral Scholar

University of California, Los Angeles


#68 Under the Microscope | Nanotaxies for Fighting CancerPranoti | Sean
00:00 / 26:20

Please explain your research in simple words

My work involves using nanoparticles to fight cancer by activating the immune system to do the fighting for you. There are many ways to do this, but in my case it involves loading up nanoparticles with small molecule drugs and delivering those drugs to tumors. The drugs help prevent the tumors from "turning off" the immune cells.

Sunday - What got me started in science and how I got here
Monday - Cancer and the immune system
Tuesday - Why use nanoparticles for drug delivery?
Wednesday - Nanoparticles vs cancer: clinical examples
Thursday - Nanoparticles vs cancer: beyond drug delivery
Friday - Nanoparticles: uptake and shape
Saturday - Nanoparticles and immunomodulation

What can the followers expect in your curation week?

How did you end up in your current research field?

I did 3 rotations in my first year of my PhD program. I tried out a chemistry lab, a dry computational lab, and a nanoparticle lab. I had always found nanoparticles interesting and ultimately it just clicked!

My PhD focused around self-assembled nanoparticles formed from amphiphilic diblock copolymers for drug delivery in immunomodulation applications. My postdoc involves lipid enveloped mesoporous silica nanoparticles for drug delivery in cancer applications.

How and where does your research fall in the domain of materials/nano science?

Which research project are you most proud of and could you explain it in simple words in the section we call #InOtherwords?

There are many cool and fascinating nanoparticles out there and a lot of research is about making a neat novel nanoparticle. But we also all want our research to impact the world, and preferably to help people. For that, we also need to perform research to refine those cool new nanoparticles, and figure out more efficient ways to make them if we're ever going to get to use them in people. The project I am most proud of was a project during my PhD that started as a side project -- using a different way of making nanoparticles much faster and at higher potential volumes than our normal ways of making them. It is now the main way that lab makes their nanoparticles, and could someday be the main way these nanoparticles are made for use in people.

I'd wish for mouse models of cancer that are immunocompetent AND recapitulate human disease well! I wish undergrads were back in lab (safely!) which just isn't possible during this pandemic. So I guess I'm actually wishing this pandemic was over!

If you had 3 wishes to improve your research experience, what would you ask for (not promising anything here!)?

What are you most looking forward to in the next 3 months?

Hopefully the publication of my first postdoc paper!

I think a big challenge is a lack of clinical translation since the big success of Doxil. There have been other approved nanoparticle formulations, but there still isn't a lot of acceptance of the field.

Which challenges/questions is the nano/materials science field facing at the moment?

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