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Next-Generation STING Agonists for Immunotherapy Against Advanced Cancer

Immune checkpoint blockers employed to unleash the anti-cancer immune response currently benefit only a subset of patients. Thus, new approaches are needed to amplify anti-tumor immunity, to convert cold tumor into hot tumor, and to potentiate immunotherapies with minimal immune-related adverse events. The gut microbiome has recently emerged as the next frontier in drug development; however, it remains unclear how to effectively alter gut microbiota for treating various diseases, including cancer. Here, James Moon presents new biomaterial-based strategies for altering the gut microbiome and amplifying anti-tumor immune responses in a safe and effective manner. He is developing new dietary fiber-based biomaterials for in situ modulation of the gut microbiome for augmenting local and systemic immune responses. He will present the therapeutic potential of our gut modulation approach in the context of improving the safety and efficacy of immune checkpoint blockers. In his second research thrust, he is developing a new nanoparticle platform for systemic delivery of STING (stimulator of IFN genes) agonists. While local STING activation can convert cold tumor into hot tumor, it has been challenging to develop STING agonists that can treat disseminated cancer due to their toxicity. Here, James will present his next-generation STING agonists that allow for systemic cancer therapy with potent efficacy, favorable pharmaceutical properties, and acceptable safety profiles. His biomaterial-based strategies may offer powerful and convenient approaches to regulate the immune system as potential therapies for cancer and other diseases.