Personalized immunotherapy treatments are being explored more as one of the effective cancer therapy treatments. A new experiment with nanodiscs showed initial success in treating melanoma and colon cancer.
Immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy, is a type of cancer treatment that improves the body’s immune system to boost its natural defenses in fighting cancer. To do this, certain substances, either made from our own body or from the laboratory, are used.
It basically works by slowing or even stopping the growth of cancer cells, stopping their dispersion in the body and helping the immune system battle these cells. There are also several types of immunotherapy. For the recent study by researchers from the University of Michigan, their personalized immunotherapy more or less leans towards T-cell therapy and cancer vaccines.
Resistance of Immune System
The researchers used nanodisc technology as a therapeutic cancer vaccine that is tested from mice with established melanoma and cancer tumors. A remarkable result showed 27 percent of T-cells in the rodent’s blood targeted to fight the tumors after being vaccinated.
Seventy days following the experiment, the researchers injected the same mice with the same tumor cells. Fascinatingly, the mice’s immune system rejected the tumors and stopped them from growing.
According to the lead author of the study, U-M doctoral student Rui Kuai, the tests suggest the immune system “remembered” the cancer cells which led to a long-term immunity against it. This is because the nanodisc tech as a therapeutic cancer vaccine is designed to kill already established cancer cells and not a preventive vaccination.
Nanodisc Technology Capabilities
Nanodiscs are a synthetic model membrane system composed of a lipid bilayer of phospholipids. The technology in the cancer vaccine is made up of totally small, synthetic lipoproteins that measure around 10 nanometers. One strand of our hair is even significantly thicker than a nanodisc since it measures around 80,000 to 100,000 meters wide.
Because of that, the nanodisc technology “efficiently delivers vaccine components to the right cells in the right tissues” according to the senior co-author of the study, Anna Schwendeman. An accurate delivery means “better T-cell responses” and efficacy.
The nanodiscs fundamentally teach the immune system to fight cancer cells in a personalized manner. This is through generating T-cells that can target neoantigens which are cancer cell markers.
Through the nanodisc cancer therapy treatments, tumors will be eradicated and prevented from coming back with no systemic toxicity. When this study passes more clinical trials, it would be a breakthrough in fighting one of the world’s leading cause of mortality.