Immune Engineering in Cancer and Regenerative Medicine

Presenter:Lonnie Shea (University of Michigan)

Topic:Immune Engineering in Cancer and Regenerative Medicine

Time: 9:30 AM, Nov. 14th ( Wednesday )

Location: 909-B,Dushu Lake Campus


Systems and strategies for promoting tissue growth provide enabling technologies for either enhancing regeneration for diseased or injured tissues, or to investigate abnormal tissue formation such as cancer. Given the complexity inherent in tissues, my laboratory is working towards the concept of Systems Tissue Engineering, which indicates the dual need i) to develop systems capable of presenting combinations of factors that drive tissue growth or prevent degeneration, as well as ii) to incorporate systems biology approaches that can identify the appropriate combination of factors. For our research in Cancer, my laboratory has been working to establish synthetic pre-metastatic niches as a means to investigate the spread of cancer with the goal of developing diagnostics or new therapies. Breast cancer is known to metastasize to specific sites (e.g., lung, liver), indicating the process is not random, and we have developed implants mimic key aspects of the metastatic niche. The immune system plays a central role in homing and colonization of the implant by cancer cells. These implants reduce the burden of disease in solid organs and provide a survival advantage when combined with early interventions. In Regenerative Medicine, I will present our work with nanoparticles for antigen specific immune tolerance, which aims to prevent tissue degeneration in autoimmune disease using models of multiple sclerosis and Type 1 Diabetes. The particles deliver antigens into endogenous peripheral tolerance mechanisms and are able attenuate T-cell activation and promote regulatory T cell development. This platform also has applications to allogeneic cell transplantation.



Lonnie Shea is the Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan (U-M), which is joint between the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine. He received his PhD in chemical engineering and scientific computing from U-M in 1997, working with Professor Jennifer Linderman. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow with then ChE Professor David Mooney in the Department of Biologic and Materials Science at the U-M Dental School.


Shea was recruited to Northwestern University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and was on the faculty from 1999 to 2014. In 2014, Shea was recruited back to the University of Michigan as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, with his recruitment coinciding with the endowment of the chair position by William and Valerie Hall. He is an internationally recognized researcher at the interface of regenerative medicine, drug and gene delivery, and immune-engineering, whose focus is on preventing tissue degeneration or promoting tissue regeneration. His projects include ovarian follicle maturation for treating infertility, islet transplantation for diabetes therapies, nerve regeneration for treating paralysis, autoimmune diseases and allogeneic cell transplantation, and cancer diagnostics. He is also developing and applying systems biology approaches to molecularly dissect tissue formation and identify key drivers of normal and abnormal growth. His technologies for immune tolerance are currently in clinical trials through the company Cour Pharmaceutical. Technologies related to cancer diagnostics are currently being prepared for clinical studies at U-M.


Shea has published more than 210 manuscripts, and has numerous inventions to his credit, among them a cellular assay with which he can measure the activity of numerous transcription factors within the cell that reveal key signaling pathways as cells differentiate. He is the PI for the Coulter Foundation Translational Research grants committee at the University of Michigan. He served as director of Northwestern’s NIH Biotechnology Training Grant and was a member of its Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a standing member of the Biomaterials and Biointerfaces study section at NIH, and a member of the editorial boards for Molecular Therapy, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Drug Delivery and Translational Research, and the Journal of Immunology and Regenerative Medicine.