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Engineering | School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering

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Date(s) - 03/19/2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Targeting Fas Death Pathway for Modulating Alloreactive Immune Responses

Esma S. Yolcu, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Child Health and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Missouri

Friday, March 19th, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.

Dr. Yolcu has focused on the Fas death pathway as a critical regulator of immunity and generated a novel agonist, SA-FasL, with robust apoptotic function. The transient display of SA-FasL on biologic surfaces was shown to serve as an effective means of localized immunomodulation with therapeutic efficacy in preclinical models of cellular, tissue, and solid organ transplantation. In ongoing research, she and her team have demonstrated that the transient display of this molecule on bone marrow cells was effective in preventing graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) and facilitating engraftment in preclinical models. This concept is presently being pursued for testing in a large animal model of GVHD as a prelude to clinical translation for the treatment of hematological cancers. She recently ventured into transiently displaying SA-FasL on biomaterials and extracellular vesicles for immunomodulation as it applies to allogeneic islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes and GVHD. The research outcomes from the indicated studies have been published extensively in high-ranking scientific journals, such as Immunity, ACS Nano, and Nature Materials.

Bio Sketch
Dr. Yolcu holds a PhD in Biology and Genetics from Ankara University and has significant interest in using hematopoietic stem cells as a powerful scheme for immunomodulation with main focus on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, and allograft rejection as well as bone marrow failure syndrome and hematological malignancies. Imperative to these efforts is a platform technology, ProtEx™, co-pioneered by Dr. Yolcu that allows for; i) the generation of novel immune ligands having robust immune-stimulatory or suppressive functions, and ii) the transient display of these ligands, individually or in combination, on biological and non-biological surfaces for localized immunomodulation. The platform technology has been patent-protected world-wide.