nnelies Wauters (1992) received her MSc in Biomedical Engineering at the Eindhoven of Technology (TU/e) in 2017. During her masters, she was enrolled in a summer internship at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and she participated in the Netherlands Research School of Chemical Biology and in the Top Sector Chemistry Student Competition. She graduated in the groups of prof. Menno Prins and prof. Luc Brunsveld, and finalized her master with an externship at Philips. Currently, she is doing her PhD on artificial antigen-presenting cells for immunotherapy in the Bio-Organic Chemistry group of prof. Jan van Hest.
In immunotherapy a patient’s immune system is employed as a living drug by activating or suppressing immune responses. Although current approaches have shown promising results, they are time-consuming, costly and involve patient invasive procedures. In addition, translation of novel immunotherapies towards the clinic remains limited due to too low efficacy and high systemic toxicity. Precision nanomedicines have high potential to overcome these issues by in vivo cell specific targeting.
During this project, we will focus on the development of artificial antigen-presenting cells (aAPCs) that can be used for T cell modulation. Polymeric nanoparticles consisting of (biodegradable) block-co-polymers, so-called polymersomes, are interesting for this purpose as they can be easily functionalized via e.g. click chemistry. Moreover, their shape can be precisely tuned, varying from spherical, to discoidal or tubular. A high-aspect ratio shape has been described to be advantageous for the multivalent immune synapse formation between the APC and T cell, as well as improved vascular margination and decreased phagocytic uptake.
Various polymersome morphologies will be functionalized with immune modulatory molecules and they will be studied for their effect on ex vivo T cell responses and their in vivo performance. It is envisioned that this modular platform can be applied for immunotherapies including cancer (activation) or auto-immune diseases (suppression).
Looking for a Master thesis project? Please find me in my office or send me an e-mail!