An immune response typically occurs during inflammation, auto-immune diseases, or cancers. In such cases, chemical triggers, or immunostimulants, recognized by receptor proteins at cell membranes activate the immune cells. Researchers can use these immunostimulants to test how different cell subsets contribute to immune response mechanisms. This invention describes a novel type of immunostimulant that can be toggled on and off, both inside the body and in vitro.
Immune responses are triggered during inflammation, auto-immune diseases or cancers. Chemical signals known as agonists or immunostimulants are recognized by a set of protein receptors on cell membranes of immune cells, resulting in the immune response. Complexities in the origins of these signals and in their propagation through a mix of immune cell types are extremely difficult to deconvolute, or to modify for therapeutic use. Current methods using immunostimulants to study underlying mechanisms of the immune system have poor temporal and spatial specificity in stimulating immune cells. To solve this problem, UC Irvine researchers have designed modified immunostimulants that exist in a quiescent state until illumination by UV-light. Upon light treatment, these light-stimulated immunostimulants activate immune response pathways with highly specific timing, duration, and location.
The spatio-temporal specificity of this new methodology is superior to prior techniques involving either genetic modification of immune cells or stimulation followed by washing of the stimulant.
§ Simple control of immune responses using light stimulation
§ Novel immunostimulants eliminate the need for genetic manipulation of cells in order to photo-stimulate immune cells
§ Precise spatial and temporal control of immune stimulation will isolate immune response pathways and allow development of, targeted drug delivery, and personalized therapeutics
New strategy to combat inflammation by focusing on non-immune tissue cells, such as fibroblasts. In vitro studies have demonstrated that photo-caged agonists precisely control spatio-temporal specificity of immunity activation via UV-light illumination