Wayne State University

Wayne State research funded by NIH may develop next generation of vaccines against autoimmune diseases

DETROIT – A major barrier to treating autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes is the lack of methods to deliver the therapeutics to specific sites such as the lymph nodes. A researcher in Wayne State University’s College of Engineering is working to address this issue with a recently awarded a $475,752 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Haipeng Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, will seek answers on how to develop “hitchhiking” approaches for drug delivery to targeted sites with the help of the grant, “Design molecular vaccines for Type 1 diabetes.” He and his collaborators seek to understand the structure-based rules that govern lymph node targeting at the molecular level that ultimately will aid in designing vaccines against autoimmune diseases.

“A major challenge in developing effective vaccines is how to deliver the vaccine components to antigen-presenting cells in lymphoid organs where the orchestrations of immune cells are initiated,” said Liu. “Our goal is to translate a novel ‘albumin-hitchhiking’ approach to target lymph nodes to molecular Type 1 diabetes vaccines.”

Liu says that this approach will simultaneously enhance the efficacy and safety of molecular vaccines via localized vaccine delivery, and regulate the antigen-presenting cells within lymph node microenvironments.

“Our strategy will integrate engineering principles in biomaterials and modify immune functions with a novel role in autoimmunity,” added Liu. “The results of these studies will have the potential to catalyze the development of the next generation of vaccines against autoimmune diseases.”

The award number for this NIH grant is 1R56DK103651-01.

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.