ISGS eSeminar, November 2023

Robust and long term preservation of protein and nucleic acid functionality via mammalian cell silicification: implications for cancer vaccines, delivery, DNA banking, and as an alternative to Cryo-Preservation 

C. Jeffrey Brinker 

Disinguished Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineer-ing and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology; Member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center




My lecture focuses on mammalian cell silicification, wherein all biomolecular interfaces of a cell (both intracellular and extracellular) are encapsu-lated and protected within a nanoscopic layer of amorphous silicon dioxde. Cell silicification employs monosilicic acid maintained at pH~3 as a silica precursor. pH3 is the point of zero charge, where Si(OH)4 is a neutral molecule stabilised against condensation reactions through formation of tetrahedrally coordinated hydrogen bonding networks with water molecules. When introduced to cell culture, Si(OH)4 diffuses like wa-ter and interchanges with hydrogen-bonded water at all biomolecular interfaces. Proximal cationic proteins catalyze its condensation to form polysiloxanes in a self-limiting process resulting in nanoscopic (1-2-nm thick) layers of silica that serve to stabilize biomolecular components against environmental stressors. Silicification of cancer cells preserves the complete repertoire of cancer neoantigens. Silicified ovarian tumor cells decorated with pathogen-associated molecular patterns were administered to mice with high-grade ovarian cancer. These pathogen-mimicking cells activate dendritic cells and enhance the internalization, processing and presentation of tumour antigens to T cells, inducing tumour-antigen-specific T-cell immunity and resulting in complete tumour eradication and in long-term animal survival. Overall cellular silicification serves to ‘freeze’ and preserve cells and biomolecular components within a refractory ice-like state and can be considered as an alternative to cryo-preservation

It is our pleasure to invite you to join the ISGS eSeminar for November 2023, which will be delivered by Professor C. Jeffrey Brinker on Thursday 30 November. Jeff is well known within the sol-gel community for his many seminal contributions to sol-gel science and technology and for his co-authorship of “Sol-Gel Science – the Physics and Chemistry of Sol-Gel Processing”, in 1990, which is still considered to be the “bible” of the field. Please click here and here to learn more about his research and interesting career journey.

Date: Thursday 30 November 2023


  • ZOOM (eSeminar link), Meeting ID: 307 291 6432 Passcode: J75@S26r


  • 08:00 – New Mexico, USA
  • 12:00 – Chile, Brazil (São Paulo) and Argentina
  • 15:00 – UTC
  • 15:00 – UK, Portugal
  • 16:00 – Central Europe, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland
  • 17:00 – Romania, Israel, Eastern Europe, Ukraine
  • 18:00 – Russia (Moscow, St Petersburg)
  • 23:00 – China, Singapore, Malaysia
  • 00:00 (+1 day) – Japan, Korea
  • 23:00 (+1 day) – Australia (East Coast)