Dr. Lonnie Shea, PhD University of Michigan
Vaccines are the initial immunotherapy by providing a means to activate an immune response to specific antigens to protect against disease. This success has motivated the development of alternative immunotherapies for treating undesired immune responses, such as those found in autoimmune disease, allergy, organ transplantation, and cancer, with the objective to attenuate responses. For autoimmune and allergic disease, we have developed nanoparticles loaded with antigen or allergen, which suppresses the antigen specific response without impacting the remainder of the immune system. The nanoparticles maintain the antigen until internalization by immune cells, with subsequent presentation of the antigen coincident with down-regulation of the co-stimulatory factors and up-regulation of negative co-stimulators. Similar nanoparticles have been applied to attenuate inflammation, such as that associated with cancer progression. A critical need for treating undesired immune responses is the identification of disease prior to significant tissue damage, with disease such as Type 1 Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or metastatic cancer often detected through patients self- reporting symptoms. We have developed scaffold implants that support the formation of tissues that function as an immunological niche to represent the immune function in endogenous tissues. The early detection and treatment of undesired immune responses provides an opportunity to ameliorate disease while preserving tissue function.
Lonnie Shea is the Steven A. Goldstein Collegiate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan (U-M), which is joint between the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine. He received his PhD in chemical engineering and scientific computing from U-M in 1997, working with Professor Jennifer Linderman. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow with then Chemical Engineering Professor David Mooney in the Department of Biologic and Materials Science at the U-M Dental School.
Shea was recruited to Northwestern University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and was on the faculty from 1999 to 2014. In 2014, Shea returned to the University of Michigan as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, with his recruitment coinciding with the endowment of the chair position by William and Valerie Hall. His term as chair completed on June 30, 2021. He is the Steven A. Goldstein Collegiate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and is an internationally recognized researcher at the interface of regenerative medicine, drug and gene delivery, and immune-engineering, whose focus is on preventing tissue degeneration or promoting tissue regeneration. His projects include islet transplantation for diabetes therapies, nerve regeneration for treating paralysis, and diagnostics for immune dysfunction in cancer and autoimmunity. He is currently PI or co-PI on multiple NIH grants.
Shea has published more than 270 manuscripts. He served as director of Northwestern’s NIH Biotechnology Training Grant. He has received the Clemson Award from the Society for Biomaterials, and also the recipient of their 2021 Technology Innovation and Development Award for his development of nanoparticles for tolerance in autoimmune disease. Shea is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a member of the editorial boards for multiple journals such as Molecular Therapy, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, and the Journal of Immunology and Regenerative Medicine.