Cancer is a major cause of disability and mortality worldwide. The striking rise of immunotherapies has transformed the way we prevent and treat cancer. Nevertheless, despite the promising clinical results of immunotherapies, they suffer from multiple limitations, including manufacturing challenges, limited efficacy, toxicity, and high costs. Recent data highlight the promising role of personalized cancer vaccines in inducing effective antitumor immunity in patients suffering from aggressive forms of cancer. However, systems suitable for targeted delivery of multiple agents required for long-lasting patient immunity are required. ImmuNovation is focused on TNM (Targeted Nano-immunoModulator), a multifunctional dendritic cell-targeted nanovaccine designed to regulate the function and phenotype of immune cells with a pivotal role in the induction of an effective, specific, and long-lasting antitumor immunity. Here, we will evaluate the technical and commercial viability of our novel nanoplatform (developed during my ERC Advanced Grant, 3DBrainStrom) for the targeted therapy of various cancer types. As proof of concept, we will focus on immunotherapy for CEACAM5+ gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, which affect more than 4.8 million new cases per year and cause 3.4 million related deaths worldwide. The nanovaccine will introduce CEACAM5 antigens and various immune modulators with synergistic mechanisms of action to dendritic cells, thus boosting the immune system’s ability to recognize and destroy GI cancer cells. The proposed nanoplatform represents an affordable alternative to current immunotherapies, with enhanced tumour selectivity, efficacy, and safety profile. My vision is that our nanovaccines will change the landscape of the standard of care for many cancer types. Our platform offers a highly attractive business case, as biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies heavily invest in cancer vaccines due to the need for cancer prevention and therapeutic strategies.
Topological materials have captured the imagination of scientists with unique electronic dispersions and surface states. While their potential seems huge - from advanced photodetectors to spintronic devices - so far it has not come to fruition, despite two decades of research. In this proposal, my aim is to reveal and control light-matter interactions, electron populations, and currents in topological bands by combining two fields of research: topological materials and nonlinear optical coherent control. Nonlinear quantum coherent control was a major leap in ultrafast science, enabling optical control of chemical reactions and electronic processes in atoms and molecules on femtosecond time scales. In solid-state systems, despite some pioneering experiments, coherent control has not been widely used. This is partially due to the complex band structures and partially because transport research has tended to be more easily applicable to the solid-state realm. Topological materials, however, are especially promising candidates for coherent control, because (a) it has proven hard to access properties related to the topology in 3D materials via transport, and (b) topological bands are associated with unique optical selection rules, and as recently revealed – fascinating nonlinear optical phenomena. In this project I will develop nonlinear coherent control of photocurrents in topological materials, thus building a bridge between nonlinear control to transport measurements of topological bands. I will use time-resolved ARPES – a powerful tool providing band-imaging out of equilibrium – to enable imaging of the photocurrents within the topological bands. PhotoTopoCurrent will establish a new research direction, which will provide a deep understanding of the unique optical couplings and nonlinear optical responses of topological electronic bands, allow us to develop sophisticated optical schemes for tailored control, and finally implement them in transport devices.