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Riley Charles Ennis

Innovative Cancer Vaccine

McLean, VA
Freshman – Dartmouth College


Innovative Cancer Vaccine

Our bodies have the ability to target and kill cancer cells better than any technology or chemical we have discovered thus far. If we harness the power of our immune systems, we may be able to develop systemic and highly effective cancer therapies. Cancer vaccines are based on the idea that tumors shut down the immune system; and if a vaccine could re-stimulate the immune system, one can breach the immunological barrier posed by tumor cells to allow the patient’s immune cells to recognize and destroy the cancer. Numerous clinical studies have shown the efficacy of these cancer therapies, and Provenge is one example of a cancer vaccine that is actually on the market. Riley’s vaccine invention is completely different, in that it delivers a specific and novel permutation of immune peptides to receptors in the intracellular space of dendritic cells in order to create a powerful anti-tumor immune response. After studying a myriad of immunological processes, he zeroed in on two pathways of the innate and adaptive immune functions that, when activated in conjunction would be able to destroy tumors. Riley developed a nanoparticle-based therapy that effectively delivered the immunostimulatory peptides into the exact cell types and induced an anti-tumor immune response. The approach applies bionanotechnological approaches of biomolecular conjugation and polymer chemistry to construct a potent and smart delivery system for the proteins. In addition, Riley designed a vaccine that would be biologically specific to the genetic information of the patient, because the major component of the vaccine is actually taken directly from the patient.


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