Grant Advances Breast Cancer Vaccine Research at Fisher

December 16, 2020

Dr. Lipika Chablani, an associate professor in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy, will continue to advance her cancer immunotherapy research, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Brander Beacons Cancer Research.

Lipika Chablani

Chablani’s research focuses on defining the immune response generated by a breast cancer vaccine, and builds on a decade of research that began while she was a doctoral student at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. There, she worked on the development of a vaccine that could be used to prevent breast cancer, conducting several studies to formulate and improve the vaccine’s delivery and effectiveness.

At Fisher, Chablani launched an active research laboratory to pursue the development of a preventative breast cancer vaccine, seeking to understand how it can protect against malignancy and what immune responses it could generate. In 2018, a $10,000 New Investigator Award given by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) supported further studies to uncover the mechanism by which cancer vaccines lead to immunity against breast cancer.

According to Chablani, cancer vaccines are different from infectious disease vaccines because they need to educate the immune system to recognize and differentiate a rogue cell compared to a healthy cell, as opposed to priming the body to generate an immune response from a foreign bacteria or virus. She believes that using the experiences from infectious disease vaccines can lead to the development of a successful breast cancer vaccine. As one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States, the need for breast cancer prevention and therapy is imperative.

“If a breast cancer vaccine is developed, it will offer significant advantages over its counterpart therapeutic options available to patients,” she said. “An immunotherapeutic approach against breast cancer will be a breakthrough therapy, and I am so appreciative of Brander Beacons for supporting my mission to develop an effective, safe approach to treat breast cancer.”

The grant from Brander Beacons will analyze three adjuvants—or substances that can boost the immune response of the vaccine—to see which is most suitable for her vaccine. This research will transition the vaccine closer to its next pre-clinical study. Two students in the Pharm.D. program, Morgan Marriott and Tyler Surman, will assist Chablani with her research.

Throughout her tenure at Fisher, Chablani has written book chapters, systematic reviews, editorials, cover articles, and blogs on topics related to nanotechnology, oncology, and immunotherapy. Additionally, she continues to serve as an editor, reviewer, and author for the scientific journals publishing original research work in the field.

In addition to a doctoral degree from Mercer, Chablani holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Mumbai University and a master’s degree from Campbell University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She is an active member of AACP and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, among other organizations.