Improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy and strengthening the immune system

The nanodrug that doubles down on cancer A single nanoparticle does two things: improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and

Photo credit: Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University researchers have demonstrated that a lipid nanoparticle-based drug delivery system can use RNA to overcome resistance to both chemotherapy and immunotherapy in cancer treatments. The study opens a new path to personalized and targeted cancer control. The results were published in the journal Advanced Materials.

The study was led by TAU Vice President for Research and Development, Prof. Dan Peer, Head of the Precision Nanomedicine Laboratory at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, and a member of the Roman Abramovich Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology , headed together with postdoc Dr. Seok-Beom Yong from South Korea. The study was funded by an ERC grant from the European Union and a research grant from the Korean government.

Chemo-immunotherapy, which combines chemotherapy with immunotherapy, is considered the most advanced standard of care for various types of cancer. While chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, immunotherapy stimulates the cells of the immune system to recognize and attack the remaining cancer cells. However, many patients do not respond to chemo-immunotherapy, meaning that treatment is not adequately targeted. Prof. Peer and his team are the first in the world to demonstrate the feasibility of a drug delivery system based on lipid nanoparticles that deliver their charge only to the specifically targeted cells – cancer cells for chemotherapy and immune cells for immunotherapy.

video research. Photo credit: Tel Aviv University

“In our system, a single nanoparticle is able to act in two different arenas,” explains Prof. Peer. “It increases the susceptibility of cancer cells that are resistant to chemotherapy, while also reviving immune cells and increasing their susceptibility to cancer cells. Thus, with a precisely targeted nanoparticle, we offer two different treatments in very different places. We have tested this system in two types of laboratory models – one for metastatic melanoma and the other for a local solid tumor. In both populations we observed positive effects of our delivery system.”

Prof Peer’s team’s new development builds on another recent discovery: an enzyme called HO1 is used by cancer cells to both resist chemotherapy and hide from the immune system. Switching off HO1 in the tumor is therefore considered the optimal strategy in clinical research, but so far all attempts to switch off the enzyme have resulted in severe side effects.

“Chemoresistant tumors represent a major challenge in our never-ending fight against cancer,” says Prof. Peer. “We want to silence the enzyme HO1, which allows tumors to develop resistance to chemotherapy and hide from the immune system. But the existing methods of silencing HO1 are akin to using an F-16 fighter jet to blow up a tiny ant. Our new nanodrug knows how to precisely target the cancer cells, silence the enzyme, and subject the tumor to chemotherapy without damaging the surrounding healthy cells.Then the same nanoparticle goes to the immune system’s T cells and reprograms them to reprogram Detecting cancer Active, highly aggressive tumors can hide from the immune system, and we restore the immune cells’ ability to recognize the cancer as a foreign body and fight it.”

“This is the first example of a single drug based on an RNA-loaded nanoparticle that performs two very different, even opposing roles,” adds Prof. Peer. “This is only a first study, but it has tremendous potential in the ongoing fight against cancer.”

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More information:
Seok‐Beom Yong et al, Dual‐Targeted Lipid Nanotherapy Boost for Chemo‐Immunotherapy of Cancer, Advanced Materials (2022). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202106350

Provided by Tel-Aviv University

citation: A single nanoparticle does two jobs: improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and revitalize the immune system (2022 April 4) retrieved April 4, 2022 from

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Russell Falcon

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