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Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2017
For outstanding contributions to advancement of plant virus-based nanomaterials for diagnostics, drug-delivery and immunotherapy in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and others.

Plants as mRNA Factories for Edible Vaccines

Via Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | September 17, 2021

University of California-Riverside (UCR) researchers say they are studying whether they can turn edible plants like lettuce into mRNA vaccine factories.

One of the challenges with this new technology is that it must be kept cold to maintain stability during transport and storage. If this new project is successful, plant-based mRNA vaccines, which can be eaten, could overcome this challenge with the ability to be stored at room temperature… Continue reading.

These fridge-free, no-needle vaccines could be ready for the next pandemic

Via fastcompany | September 14, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been mired in logistical challenges. Millions of doses have gone to waste, some spoiling after being left unrefrigerated for too long, some expiring before they could physically get to those in need. Most of the vaccines need to be kept at incredibly low temperatures, requiring a cold chain for distribution, a tricky feat when the vaccine needs to access remote areas or regions without electricity. Even with the vaccines in place, you still need people to put those shots in arms, and to come back and do it all again for the second dose.

Nicole Steinmetz, a professor of nanoengineering and the director of the Center for Nano ImmunoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), imagines another way: “thermally stable” vaccines that don’t need to be transported in freezers, and which could come in a microneedle patch—so that “you could ship it to people’s homes, and they can self-administer just like a bandaid,” she says—or in one-dose implants, eliminating the need to set up a second appointment… Continue reading.

How a Plant Virus Could Protect and Save Your Lungs From Metastatic Cancer

Via UCSD | September 14, 2021

Using a virus that grows in black-eyed pea plants, nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego developed a new treatment that could keep metastatic cancers at bay from the lungs. The treatment not only slowed tumor growth in the lungs of mice with either metastatic breast cancer or melanoma, it also prevented or drastically minimized the spread of these cancers to the lungs of healthy mice that were challenged with the disease.

The research was published Sept. 14 in the journal Advanced Science.

Cancer spread to the lungs is one of the most common forms of metastasis in various cancers. Once there, it is extremely deadly and difficult to treat… Continue reading.

COVID-19 vaccine development and a potential nanomaterial path forward

Via Nature Nanotechnology | July 15, 2020

Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected millions of people with no clear signs of abatement owing to the high prevalence, long incubation period and lack of established treatments or vaccines. Vaccines are the most promising solution to mitigate new viral strains. The genome sequence and protein structure of the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV or SARS-CoV-2) were made available in record time, allowing the development of inactivated or attenuated viral vaccines along with subunit vaccines for prophylaxis and treatment. Nanotechnology benefits modern vaccine design since nanomaterials are ideal for antigen delivery, as adjuvants, and as mimics of viral structures. In fact, the first vaccine candidate launched into clinical trials is an mRNA vaccine delivered via lipid nanoparticles. To eradicate pandemics, present and future, a successful vaccine platform must enable rapid discovery, scalable manufacturing and global distribution. Here, we review current approaches to COVID-19 vaccine development and highlight the role of nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing… Continue reading.

Injectable Plant-based Nanoparticles Delay Tumor Progression

Via Case Western Reserve | July 18, 2017

New Research Suggests Co-administration with Chemotherapy Drugs Most Effective Strategy

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in collaboration with researchers from Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and RWTH Aachen University (Germany) have adapted virus particles that normally infect potatoes to serve as cancer drug-delivery devices for mice.

And in a recent article published in Nano Letters, the team showed injecting the virus particles alongside chemotherapy drugs, instead of packing the drugs inside, may provide an even more potent benefit.

The researchers discovered injecting potato virus particles into melanoma tumor sites activates an anti-tumor immune system response. In addition, injecting the nanoscale plant virus particles simultaneously with a chemotherapy drug—doxorubicin—into tumor sites further helps halt tumor progression in mice. But surprisingly, when the researchers created and injected combination nanoparticles, where the chemo drug is physically attached to the virus particles, there was not a significant added benefit.

The results are the first to show that “vaccinating” mice with potato virus nanoparticles at a cancer site can generate an anti-tumor response. But the results also suggest more complex nanoparticles may not correspond to added therapeutic benefit.

“It’s attractive to want to create multifunctional nanoparticles that can ‘do it all,’” said Nicole F. Steinmetz, senior author on the study, the George J. Picha Professor in Biomaterials, member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Center for Bio-Nanotechnology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “But this study shows significant therapeutic efficacy, including prolonging survival, requires a more step-wise approach. When the plant-based virus particles and the drugs were able to work on their own, we saw the greatest benefit… Continue reading.

Drug-delivery method holds promise for controlling crop parasites

Via Case Western Reserve | May 30, 2017

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are applying drug-delivery technology to agriculture to control parasitic roundworms more effectively and safely.

The tiny roundworms, or nematodes, cause $157 billion in crop failures worldwide each year, other researchers estimate, largely because they’re beyond the reach of pesticides. The chemicals disperse poorly into soil, while the parasites feed at plant roots well below the surface.

As a result, farmers apply large amounts of pesticides, which can increase the chemical concentrations in food or run off and damage other parts of the environment, all of which have costs.

But biomedical engineering researchers at Case Western Reserve may have found an effective solution.

“We use biological nanoparticles—a plant virus—to deliver a pesticide,” said Paul Chariou, a PhD student in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve and author of a study on the process published in the journal ACS Nano. “Use of the nanoparticle increases soil diffusion while decreasing the risk of leaching and runoff, reducing the amount of chemical in food crops and reducing the cost to treat crops.”

Chariou worked with Nicole Steinmetz, the George J. Picha Professor in Biomaterials appointed by the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine… Continue reading.

Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D. To be Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite

Via AIMBE | March 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D., Associate Professor, , Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Steinmetz was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows For outstanding contributions to advancement of plant virus-based nanomaterials for diagnostics, drug-delivery and immunotherapy in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and others..