Grants - V Scholar Grants - Maryland - 2018

Jamie Spangler, Ph.D.

Funded by the Constellation Gold Network Distributors

Only a limited number of proteins are found in nature, and many of them have multiple different functions that clash with one another, which makes them poor drugs. There is a growing interest in engineering existing proteins or designing brand new proteins that are better than the ones in nature. Most current methods for protein design use a random approach. However, as our understanding of protein structure improves, we have an exciting chance to use structure to guide design. My lab applies new tools from biology and engineering to figure out the mechanisms that control protein behavior. We then use this information to discover and develop better drugs.

One of the biggest cancer breakthroughs is immunotherapy, which activates the patient’s own immune system to fight disease. My lab aims to bias the activity of immune proteins in order to achieve a targeted response against cancer. For more than twenty years, immune proteins such as cytokines and antibodies have served as powerful weapons in cancer treatment, but they are limited by issues such as drug resistance and harmful side effects. As a result, there is an unmet need to create new proteins that overcome these challenges. Building on our lab’s insights and platforms we have designed, we will make a new protein drugs that act through unique pathways to induce potent anti-cancer immune responses.