(CN) – Researchers have developed the first dual cell-targeting immunotherapy nanoparticle, which offers a potential new – and less physically taxing – avenue of cancer treatment.
In a study published Wednesday in the journal ACS Nano, the team reports the new treatment was able to slow tumor growth in mice with melanoma and colon cancer, allowing up to half of the mice in one test group to enter full remission after the treatment.
Immunotherapy relies on boosting the body’s immune system during its fight against the disease, with doctors offering two main forms of the treatment. One form recruits the body’s T-cells to destroy tumors, while the other disables cancer cells’ ability to hide from the immune system.
The new treatment incorporates these two functions into one system through “immunoswitch” nanoparticles developed by the team. The particles are designed to simultaneously turn on a specific T-cell process that launches them into action against cancer cells, while turning off a pathway on tumor cells that would otherwise become invisible to the immune system.
“Our data show the potential of a signal-switching approach to cancer immunotherapy that simultaneously targets two stages of the cancer immunity cycle resulting in robust antitumor activity,” the study says.
Testing on mouse models of colon cancer and melanoma showed that rodents injected with the particles lived longer than those that did not receive them, and tumor development was either delayed or even reversed for some of the injected mice.
The team is encouraged by the technique’s effectiveness against more than one form of cancer and by the synergistic effect created by the treatment, which they believe will allow them to use lower concentrations to possibly avoid the severe side effects that have been associated with others forms of dual immunotherapy.