Berkeley Lab

Using Synthetic Glycopolymers to Reveal New Targets for Cancer Immune Therapy

Carolyn Bertozzi, formerly director of the Molecular Foundry and now theĀ Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, gave an inspiring talk about how work started at the Molecular Foundry has led to new developments in creating new cancer therapies and to spinning out a company to bring their discoveries to market.

After discovering molecules on the surface of cancer cells that influence (namely, turn off) the immune response by using biomimetic polymers, her group used an enzyme as a “molecular lawnmower” to remove these molecules from the cancer cell surface and allow immune cells to recognize it as harmful and kill it. This lawnmower tech led to the creation of a new company, Palleon Pharmaceuticals to further develop and test the treatment.

She finished her rousing talk with a reflection that none of this would have been possible without the initial research done at the Foundry where it was vital to have the multidisciplinary capabilities of synthesis, theory, and characterization all together under one roof.