Nanodrug Technology Delivers Two Therapies to Attack Malignancy

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Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a nanodrug technology that instantaneously delivers two therapies to target malignancy with accuracy, to resolve the resistance of certain cancers to various types of treatments.

Prof. Dan Peer. Image Credit: Tel Aviv University.

The method paves the way for cancer treatments that are more effective and have fewer side effects than current treatments.

In our system, a single nanoparticle is capable of operating in two different arenas. It increases the receptiveness of cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy, while also reinvigorating immune cells and increasing their sensitivity to cancer cells. Thus, with one precisely targeted nanoparticle we provide two different treatments, at very different sites.

Dan Peer, Study Lead Investigator, Professor Tel Aviv University

Dan Peer is also the Vice President of R&D at TAU. He also heads the Laboratory of Precision Nanomedicine at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences.

Chemo-immunotherapy, a treatment that combines chemotherapy and immunotherapy, is regarded as the most sophisticated standard of care for different types of cancer.

Immunotherapy, unlike chemotherapy, urges the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells without harming healthy cells that are necessary for recovery. However, many patients do not respond to chemo-immunotherapy, highlighting the need for more precise cancer treatments.

Potential to Heal

Peer’s team demonstrated how a single nanoparticle, known as a lipid nanoparticle, can act as a molecular precision-guided missile to deliver the two-in-one medicine straight to cancer cells in the research. The drug, an advanced RNA (ribonucleic acid)-based compound, changes the way cancer cells function so that they can be identified for obliteration with chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

This is only an initial study, but it has enormous potential for positive change in the ongoing fight against cancer.

Dan Peer, Study Lead Investigator, Professor Tel Aviv University

Peer is a global pioneer in the field of RNA medicines. Dr. Seok- Beom Yong, a post-doctoral researcher at Peer’s laboratory, co-headed the research. Their team investigated the system in laboratory models of metastasized melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer that continues to spread to other parts of the body, as well as a local solid tumor confined to a single organ.

In both populations we observed positive effects of our drug delivery system,” added Peer, who is a member of the Roman Abramovich Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at TAU. The study was published in the Advanced Materials journal.

Targeted Treatment

Peer’s research builds on a recent revelation by international scientists that gives insight into how cancer evades common treatments. The discovery illustrates how cancer cells use an enzyme known as HO1 to both resist chemotherapy and hide from the immune system. Silencing HO1 in tumors is thus regarded as the best clinical research strategy, but all previous attempts to silence the enzyme have resulted in adverse side effects.

Existing methods for silencing HO1 resemble using an F-16 fighter jet to blast a tiny ant. Our new nanodrug knows how to precisely target the cancer cells, silence the enzyme, and expose the tumor to chemotherapy, without causing any damage to surrounding healthy cells. Afterwards, the same nanoparticle goes on to reprogram T-cells in the immune system to restore their ability to recognize cancer as a foreign body and attack it.

Dan Peer, Study Lead Investigator, Professor Tel Aviv University

The research was supported by a European Union ERC grant and a South Korean government research fellowship.

Enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reinvigorating the immune system

Video Credit: Tel Aviv University

Journal Reference:

Yong, S.-B., et al. (2022) Dual-Targeted Lipid Nanotherapeutic Boost for Chemo-Immunotherapy of Cancer. Advanced Materials. doi.org/10.1002/adma.202106350.

Source: https://english.tau.ac.il/

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