Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nanovaccine shows promise for variety of cancers

Laser light is scattered by nanoparticles
in a solution of the UTSW-developed
nanovaccine. – Photo courtesy UTSW
CANCER DIGEST – May 17, 2017 – In another approach using nanotechnology to boost the body’s immune system to attack cancer, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center, have shown in a proof-of-concept study that a nanovaccine extended survival in mouse models of a variety of cancers.

The study published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology showed effective anti-tumor action in tumor models of melanoma, colorectal cancer, and HPV-related cancers of the cervix, head, neck and anogenital cancers.


The researchers led by Drs. Jinming Gao and Zhijian Chen have developed the nanovaccine that delivers tumor antigens – proteins that identify cancer cells – to immune cells while stimulating the production of T cells that recognize and attack the cancer cells. Specifically, the experimental UTSW nanovaccine works by activating an adaptor protein called STING, which in turn stimulates the body’s immune defense system against cancer.

“For nanoparticle vaccines to work, they must deliver antigens to proper cellular compartments within specialized immune cells called antigen-presenting cells and stimulate innate immunity,” said Dr. Chen. “Our nanovaccine did all of those things.”

The investigative team is now working with physicians at UT Southwestern to explore clinical testing of the STING-activating nanovaccines for a variety of cancer indications. Combining nanovaccines with radiation or other immunotherapy strategies such as “checkpoint inhibition” can further augment their anti-tumor effectiveness.

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