Researchers have developed powerful nanodiscs that can deliver customised therapeutic vaccine and help kill cancerous tumours in 10 days in mice, as well as prevent their growth later.
The study is published in the journal Nature Materials.
The technology is made of extremely small, synthetic high density lipoproteins measuring roughly 10 nanometres and is loaded with tumour neoantigens, which are unique mutations found in tumour cells.
By generating T-cells that recognise these specific neoantigens, the technology targets cancer mutations and fights to eliminate cancer cells and prevent tumour growth.
"We are basically educating the immune system with these nanodiscs so that immune cells can attack cancer cells in a personalised manner," said James Moon, Assistant Professor at University of Michigan in the US.
Unlike preventive vaccinations, therapeutic cancer vaccines of this type are meant to kill established cancer cells.
"The idea is that these vaccine nanodiscs will trigger the immune system to fight the existing cancer cells in a personalised manner," Moon said.
In the study, the technology was tested in mice with established melanoma and colon cancer tumours.
When combined them with immune checkpoint inhibitors -- which amplifies the T-cells' responses -- they can not kill existing tumours, but also prevent them from reemerging later, the researchers said.
The nanodiscs took 10 days to eliminate tumours and they shut down identical tumours when they were reinserted 70 days later that did not grow.
"This suggests the immune system 'remembered' the cancer cells for long-term immunity," added Rui Kuai, doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences at University of Michigan.
"The holy grail in cancer immunotherapy is to eradicate tumours and prevent future recurrence without systemic toxicity and our studies have produced very promising results in mice," Moon noted.
Source: Nature Materials
(27 Apr 2017)