Use the immune system to infiltrate and destroy tumors
University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers have found a way to harness the power of the immune system to recruit immune cells to help treat cancer.
Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D., and Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., have shown that a protein messenger, or chemokine, called CCL21 can be used to treat tumors. CCL21 is capable of attracting immune cells to the area where it’s administered.
However, one problem with this approach is that CCL21 doesn’t last long inside the body, and therefore the effects of CCL21 are relatively short-lived.
To get around this hurdle, Drs. Bronich and Solheim created a new way to deliver CCL21 directly to the tumor site while protecting it from degradation. The nanoformulation allows for extended release of CCL21 within the tumor site, which prolongs its effect and increases the overall therapeutic impact.
The CCL21 nanoparticle formulations have been developed, and release kinetics have been optimized. Researchers have also performed small-scale animal studies using subcutaneous Panc02 tumors where the nanoformulated CCL21 showed significant inhibition of tumor growth over nine days.
In addition to use as a standalone immunotherapy, the CCL21 nanoparticles can also enhance other immunotherapies.
By enhancing immune infiltration into tumors, the CCL21 nanoparticles can greatly enhance the efficacy of tumor vaccines, cell therapies, oncolytic viruses, and antibody therapies. Future studies will look at the benefits of co-administering CCL21 nanoparticles with existing cancer immunotherapies.
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