Oluwatayo (Tayo) Ikotun, Ph.D.
Positions & Affiliations:
Assistant Professor, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
Faculty, Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging
Membership: JCCC, BSCRC, MBI
The laboratory for image guided immunotherapy has 3 central research focuses: (1) Developing diagnostic imaging tools to enable the in-life visualization of the cancer immunity cycle. We are employing multiplex imaging to monitor the crosstalk between distinct immune cell populations, characterize their function, and apply these tools to evaluate immune responses to disease progression and therapeutic intervention. (2) Investigating the validity of a single-agent targeted radio-immunotherapy (TRIT) approach to overcome the immunogenicity challenge that hampers the therapeutic efficacy of current cancer immunotherapies. Cancer immunotherapies are effective in ~30 % of patients. In general, patients with highly infiltrative lesions are responders while the disease progresses in those with non-inflamed lesions. TRIT is comprised of a direct tumor targeting moiety, immune co-stimulator/inhibitor, and radiation therapy, that work synergistically to eradicate cancer regardless of resident immune status. (3) Employing molecular imaging to increase our understanding of progressive fibrosis. We are particularly interested in interrogating fibroblast activation, macrophage dysregulation, TGF?, and collagen production. Rodent models remain the cornerstone for advancing new diagnostics and therapeutics into the clinic. Currently, there are no rodent models of progressive fibrotic disease; limiting our ability to interrogate underlying mechanisms of fibrogenesis or adequately investigate the efficacy of discovery therapeutics. Thus, our lab is developing a new in vivo model of progressive fibrosis using pluripotent stem cell induced fibroblast activation organoids. We will investigate the conditions that support the engraftment and self-renewing progression of disease, and leverage our imaging tools to characterize the molecular signatures of disease.
Dr. Ikotun is a translational imaging scientist with multidisciplinary training and expertise that spans inorganic chemistry, radiochemistry, molecular imaging, and immuno-oncology. She earned her Ph.D., in bioinorganic chemistry at Syracuse University where she investigated the magnetic and biological properties of pyrophosphate bridged bimetallic complexes. Her work was the first to evaluate the potent anti-cancer properties and conduct an in-depth investigation of the mechanism by which these pro-drugs elicit cell death. She went on to receive her training in nuclear imaging as a postdoctoral associate at Washington University School of Medicine. As an American Cancer Society Fellow, she developed diagnostic imaging agents that exploited the enhanced vitamin demand and overexpression of cell surface receptors to non-invasively detect cancerous lesions. Following her academic training, she worked as an industry scientist at Amgen Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb. During her six-year tenure in biotechnology/pharma she served as the subject matter expert for immuno-oncology and inflammation imaging and directly applied molecular imaging to drug discovery and development. This diverse experience has shaped her belief that molecular imaging has a key role to play in our understanding of disease biology, drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and is instrumental for elucidating the mechanisms of action of novel therapeutics in living subjects.