The immune system, a complex network of molecular agents, cells, organs, and physiological structures, must work in concert to defend the body against infections of all types, as well as against cancer, while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

While scientists have learned a tremendous amount about how the immune system works, many challenges remain. This is where our research at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) begins.

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Immunoengineering at Pritzker Molecular Engineering, combined with the existing breadth and strengths in immunology research at the University of Chicago, is poised to revolutionize approaches to developing more potent therapies for the human immune system.

As our knowledge of the immune system deepens, immunoengineering will become an increasingly powerful way to not only understand the immune system, but also to manipulate, stimulate, and eventually control it in order to address conditions ranging from cancer and infections to allergies and auto-immune diseases.

PME is bringing its expertise in engineering design and fabrication to contribute to this research. Several of our laboratories have created synthetic vaccines that have been shown to be effective in stimulating the immune system against certain types of cancers, such as lymphoma, and pathogenic bacteria strep. As these synthetic nanoparticle vaccines are non-biological and do not require additional chemicals to activate them, many of the complications associated with viral-based, or adjuvant-activated, vaccines are no longer an obstacle. PME researchers are extending this approach to research on other cancers and pathogen types, such as HIV, staph, and malaria.

As pioneers in immunoengineering, PME also seeks to engage computational bioengineering, fluid mechanics, transport expertise, and related systems that are necessary to understand the fluid and cellular movement through tissues to the lymph system.

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