Spatiotemporal control of cell therapies deep inside the body with thermal bioswitches

Dec 2, 2021, 4:00 pm5:00 pm
Louis A. Simpson International Building - Room A71
Event Description

Rapid advances in synthetic biology are driving the development of genetically engineered cells as therapeuticand diagnostic agents for a multitude of human diseases. A critical capability for many envisioned applications is the ability to control the function of engineered cells in situ to enable spatially and temporally controlled activation at anatomical and disease sites such as tumors. However, among existing control methods, systemic chemical administration typically lacks the spatial precision needed to modulate activity at specific anatomical locations, while optical approaches suffer from poor light penetration into tissues. On the other hand, temperature can be controlled both globally and locally — at depth — using technologies such as focused ultrasound, infrared light and magnetic particle hyperthermia. In this talk, I will introduce a new class of thermally responsive proteins that we have engineered to serve as molecular walkie-talkies. By combining these proteins with slight elevations in temperature via focused-ultrasound, we were able to communicate with cells and control their function deep within tumors in mice.