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Mount Professor Earns Patent for Research to Create Safer Vaccines

6/8/2017

Riverdale, N.Y. – Mount Assistant Professor of Biology Robert Suriano is leading progress in creating vaccines to fight infectious diseases and cancer. In a pro- and anti-vax era, Dr. Suriano’s groundbreaking research has earned a patent that could revolutionize how we treat people against disease.

Most vaccines are produced with aluminum-based components, which are substances added to vaccines that enhance the body’s immune response against antigens, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Despite being FDA approved and used for over 90 years, aluminum is a known neurotoxin associated with various side effects, such as immunological disorders.

“Bacterial products known as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induce a potent inflammatory response when administered in minute quantities,” Dr. Suriano said. “The response is powerful enough to activate the immune system against antigens in vaccines.”

Dr. Suriano and his colleagues have reported on the activity of several peptides, or small proteins, that functionally mimic LPS, creating a strong—and safer—immune response. “Since LPS is lethal in large amounts, using peptides is ultimately much better for people,” Dr. Suriano said.

The Mount’s undergraduates are key in the research process. Pending funding, they will be joining Dr. Suriano in the lab this fall. “One of the features I appreciate most about the Mount is the ability to have my own lab, and to share that lab with students,” Dr. Suriano said. “Mount Saint Vincent is a cohesive, intimate community, starting with the faculty. I love teaching, and the ability to include my students in my work allows them to gain exposure to research they wouldn’t be able to access at most large universities.”

Last month, more than 80 Mount undergraduates showcased their original research at the College’s seventh annual Student Research and Service Symposium, underscoring the extraordinary power of an education rooted in intellectual accomplishment.

Long dedicated to cancer immunology research, Dr. Suriano’s publications include co-authoring the article “Interlinking of Hypoxia and Estrogen in Thyroid Cancer Prevention” in Current Medical Chemistry Journal and “Targeting the Immune System in Cancer” in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.

“I’m proud to be a part of this institution, and I look forward to seeing where the patent leads us,” Dr. Suriano said.

About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.