Mucosal immunoengineering is a rapidly growing field that concentrates on modulating the immune system at mucosal surfaces, which play a crucial role in immune defense and regulation. The Cao Lab's research in mucosal immunoengineering focuses on creating innovative biomaterials and drug delivery platforms for the precise delivery of immune modulators to mucosal tissues. By leveraging nanotechnology and immunoengineering approaches, our aim is to enhance the immune response to vaccines, prevent and treat infectious diseases, and alleviate chronic allergic or inflammatory conditions.
One of our key research area is the use of mucosal engineering tools for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV. Mucosal sites, such as the lining of the respiratory, gut, and reproductive tracts, are the primary sites of entry for many pathogens. We aims to develop novel drug delivery systems that can specifically target these mucosal sites or engineer the mucosal environment to inhibit the invasion of pathogens or eliminate viral reservoirs.
The immune system can also overreact at mucosal surfaces, leading to conditions such as chronic inflammatory disease, including inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Managing these chronic diseases remains challenging. Our goal is to apply immunoengineering strategies to achieve targeted and sustained delivery of novel immunomodulatory agents to the mucosal site, to restore normal immune function and reduce inflammation with better efficacy and fewer side effects.