Use the immune system to 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.
Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., and Tatiana Bronich, Ph. D., have shown that a protein messenger, or chemokine, called CCL21, can 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. Solheim and Bronich 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, prolonging its effect and increasing the overall therapeutic impact.
The CCL21 nanoparticle formulations have been developed, and release kinetics have been optimized.
The CCL21 nanoparticles were tested in a neuroblastoma mouse model. Neuroblastoma is a pediatric nervous system cancer. CCL21-Nanoparticles activated strong anti-tumor immune responses in treated mice.
Mice given the CCL21 nanoparticles survived much longer, and the tumors grew slower. Remarkably, one-third of the mice had complete tumor clearance and were protected from developing additional tumors.
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 significantly improve 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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