Improving Immunotherapy with Nanomedicine Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. Wenbin Lin, PhD, James Franck Professor of Chemistry, thinks big when it comes to innovation, but his approach is small—nanomedicine. Lin has teamed up with Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, Daniel K. Ludwig Distinguished Service Professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, to improve cancer immunotherapy (mobilizing a person’s immune system to fight cancer) using nanotechnology. Immunotherapy has recently revolutionized how many can- cers are treated, and scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center are leaders in the field from basic immunology research to immunotherapy clinical tri- als. However, it is not perfect. Many patients do not respond to immunotherapy from the get-go, or they stop responding. To enhance its effectiveness, Lin and Weichselbaum combined immunotherapy with a type of nanotechnology the Lin lab- oratory pioneered using metal organic frameworks (MOFs) nanoparticles for photodynamic therapy. The MOFs are loaded with immunotherapy drugs (such as a small molecule inhibitor of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase or IDO) and light is used to activate a chain of reactions to destroy the cancer cells and initiate an immune response. In preclinical cancer models, the combination treatment is more potent, and far-reaching, than each are individually. The team has broadened the scope of their research efforts, observing similar effects by combining photo- dynamic therapy using nanoscale coordination polymers nanoparti- cles (rather than MOFs) with check- point inhibitor immunotherapies. Next steps also include additional preclinical testing in a range of cancer types and planned early- stage clinical trials. Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology—engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale—to the prevention and treatment of disease. 22 Powered by Innovation