Washington : Scientists have developed nanodiscs that deliver a customised therapeutic and kill colon and melanoma cancer tumours in mice within 10 days, as well as prevent future recurrence.
“We are basically educating the immune system with these nanodiscs so that immune cells can attack cancer cells in a personalised manner,” said James Moon, assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the US.
Personalised immunotherapy is a fast-growing field of research in the fight against cancer, researchers said.
The therapeutic cancer vaccine employs nanodiscs loaded with tumour neoantigens, which are unique mutations found in tumour cells.
By generating T-cells that recognise these specific neoantigens, the technology targets cancer mutations and fights to eliminate cancer cells and prevent tumour growth.
Unlike preventive vaccinations, therapeutic cancer vaccines of this type are meant to kill established cancer cells.
“The idea is that these vaccine nanodiscs will trigger the immune system to fight the existing cancer cells in a personalised manner,” Moon said.
The nanodisc technology was tested in mice with established melanoma and colon cancer tumours.
After the vaccination, 27 per cent of T-cells in the blood of the mice in the study targeted the tumours.
When combined with immune checkpoint inhibitors, an existing technology that amplifies T-cell tumour-fighting responses, the nanodisc technology killed tumours within 10 days of treatment in the majority of the mice.
After waiting 70 days, researchers then injected the same mice with the same tumour cells, and the tumours were rejected by the immune system and did not grow.
“This suggests the immune system ‘remembered’ the cancer cells for long-term immunity,” said doctoral student Rui Kuai.
“The holy grail in cancer immunotherapy is to eradicate tumours and prevent future recurrence without systemic toxicity, and our studies have produced very promising results in mice,” Moon said.
The technology is made of extremely small, synthetic high density lipoproteins measuring roughly 10 nanometres. By comparison, a human hair is 80,000 to 100,000 nanometres wide.
“It’s a powerful vaccine technology that efficiently delivers vaccine components to the right cells in the right tissues. Better delivery translates to better T-cell responses and better efficacy,” said Anna Schwendeman, assistant professor at the university.
The next step is to test the nanodisc technology in a larger group of larger animals, Moon said.
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