Fighting cancer with trained nanoparticles – ICT&health

Fighting cancer with trained nanoparticles – ICT&health

It has been known for some time, thanks to cancer research, that certain cancer cells can alter certain specific macrophages. Subsequently, these poor macrophages contribute to tumor growth. “Macrophages are cells that act as vacuum cleaners for your immune system. They normally trap and destroy invaders, but cancer cells hijack these cells to help them spread throughout the body,” explains Prof. Dr. Jay Prakash. Together with his team, he has developed a new immunotherapy that transforms these Macrophages back into tumor-fighting cells.

Nanoparticles to fight cancer

Prakash team for these two nanoparticles with a diameter of 100 to 200 nanometers. Before those nanoparticles can begin training bad macrophages, they must first detect bad macrophages. The aim of the research was to gain insight and answer the question of how nanoparticles were able to find the appropriate site and macrophage.

Prakash and his team have adapted nanoparticles for this purpose. These consist of a double layer of specific lipids (phospholipids), the so-called nanoliposomes. They have long tails that prefer sticking together in the double layer. We’ve replaced some of the nanoparticles with variants that have a slightly shorter, sometimes charged, flip-out tail. We call it ‘tail flipping’, says Prakash. The scientists discovered that the inverted tail created in this way is recognized by the bad macrophages and then the entire particle is eaten.

With this knowledge it was clear how bad macrophages could be treated. That was when he began training immune cells to fight cancer. This training ensures that they can be used to fight tumors again. To do this, the researchers added a small component of the bacteria’s cell wall to the nanoparticles that “flip the tail” in the double-layer wall of these nanoparticles.

Fighting cancer with trained nanoparticles – ICT&health

Previous research has already shown that these tiny pieces of the bacterial wall can train macrophages. “Bad macrophages absorb these molecules. By bringing this drug into the bad macrophages in this way, we prevent them from being recognized by the wrong cells. This prevents damage to other parts of the body,” Prakash explains.

Metastasis prevention

The publication describes that retrained hijacked macrophages are able to inhibit tumor growth. In tests on mice with breast cancer, this resulted in a 70 percent reduction in tumor growth and prevented the spread of cancer cells – so-called metastases -. For example, trained macrophages prevented cancer cells from “preparing” lung tissue to receive cancer cells. The latter is the process that precedes metastasis. Due to the action of trained macrophages, cancer cells that have reached the lungs can no longer lead to the formation of a new tumor.

De publicatie, “Cancer immunotherapy using ‘engineered ‘tail flip’ nanoliposomes targeting instead activated macrophages,” is voor iedereen. Professor Dr. Dr. Jay Prakash is a Pharmacist and Lead Scientist in the Advanced Organ Bioengineering and Therapeutic Research Group (College of Applied Sciences, TechMed Centre).

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