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Innovation for translation into future medicine

The Iwasaki lab leverages basic immunological insights to develop new medicines and vaccines that help improve existing therapies and preventative measures. Some of these endeavors have led to the creation of new companies while others have been licensed for use.


With Prof. Anna Pyle, we have developed a potent synthetic agonist for the innate immune receptor RIG-I, which enables us to induce a robust innate immune activation that also leads to adaptive immunity. Based on these mechanistic insights, RIGImmune uses synthetic RIG-I agonist (a stem-loop RNA called SLR) to bolster immune response against viruses and cancers. In 2018, Akiko Iwasaki and Anna Pyle received the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation Award for RIGImmune.

For more information visit the RIGImmune website.

Xanadu Bio

Xanadu Bio is a privately held, next generation nanoparticle delivery company focusing on the delivery of mRNA and other nucleic acids that utilizes PACE platform technology. PACE technology is a next-generation polymeric nanoparticle that consists of three monomers that are fully biodegradable, and allows for efficient delivery of and protection from nuclease degradation for different types of nucleic acids, including mRNA. Leveraging PACE, Xanadu is initially focused on developing nasal vaccine boosters for the prevention and treatment of SARS CoV-2 infection and for other indications. Prime and Spike and Prime and PACE-mRNA vaccine strategies have been licensed to Xanadu Bio, of which Prof. Iwasaki is a co-founder. Xanadu aims to develop safe and effective nasal vaccines that can prevent infection and transmission of respiratory viruses.


Based on our discovery that CD4 T cells can be used to safely and transiently open BBB, we developed CynAxis, a technology that can be applied for treatment against cancer, autoimmunity, CNS infectious, and neurodegenerative conditions. While there are several competitor products and methods in the market that also work to make the CNS accessible to therapies and drugs, CynAxis offers the advantage of being natural and agnostic to any cargo. CynAxis can be combined with other therapies to provide patients with the most comprehensive care possible to treat brain diseases. In 2020, Akiko Iwasaki and Eric Song received the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation Award for CynAxis.

Illustrated by Yexin Yang