Samuel Y. Sheng Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Inflammation serves as a crucial defense mechanism, alerting our bodies to damage and aiding in the restoration of homeostasis. However, when inflammation becomes excessive or chronic, it can manifest as a range of debilitating diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, and wound healing. Controlling the inflammatory response is a pivotal aspect of managing these conditions. While conventional drug therapies remain the mainstay of treatment, biomaterials are increasingly gaining traction as an alternative approach. Biomaterials offer a promising strategy for targeted drug delivery to inflamed sites, enhancing bioavailability and minimizing systemic side effects. Additionally, they can act as scavengers, removing pro-inflammatory factors to directly suppress inflammation. This scavenging approach has demonstrated efficacy in treating inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. A key factor in the pathogenesis of these diseases appears to be the aberrant activation of innate immune sensors, particularly Pattern Recognition Receptors (PRRs), triggered by nucleic acids released from damaged or dying cells. In this presentation, I will discuss the application of nucleic acid-binding polymers as a multifaceted strategy for combating inflammation. These polymers not only effectively neutralize pro-inflammatory nucleic acids but also serve as versatile therapeutic carriers for drug delivery. Through an exploration of their mechanisms of action and therapeutic potential, I will present the promise of nucleic acid-binding polymers as a new approach to managing inflammatory diseases.
Kam W. Leong is the Samuel Y. Sheng Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, where he focuses on three major research directions: 1) Nonviral gene editing in vivo; 2) Biomaterials-assisted modulation of inflammation; 3) Human-tissue chips for disease modeling and drug screening. He has published ~500 manuscripts holds more than 60 issued patents. He is the recipient of the IEEE-EMBS Academic Career Achievement Award, Founder’s Award of the Society for Biomaterials, Editor-in-Chief of Biomaterials, and a member of the National Academy of Inventors, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine.