Nanovaccine Immunotherapy Targets Several Cancer Types

Nanoparticle precisely delivers tumor antigens to immune cells while stimulating immunity.

A novel nanoparticle immunotherapy vaccine can target multiple cancer types, according to a study published in Nature Nanotechnology.

The nanovaccine consists of tumor antigens inside a synthetic polymer nanoparticle. It delivers minuscule particles that stimulate an immune response.

“What is unique about our design is the simplicity of the single-polymer composition that can precisely deliver tumor antigens to immune cells while stimulating innate immunity,” said co-senior author Dr Jinming Gao. “These actions result in safe and robust production of tumor-specific T cells that kill cancer cells.”

Nanoparticle vaccines are beneficial because they can travel directly to the lymph nodes to activate tumor-specific immune responses. Normal vaccines however, require immune cells.

“For nanoparticle vaccines to work, they must deliver antigens to proper cellular compartments within specialized immune cells called antigen-presenting cells and stimulate innate immunity,” said co-senior author Dr Zhijian ‘James’ Chen. “Our nanovaccine did all of those things.”

The experimental nanovaccine activates the adaptor protein called STING to stimulate the body’s immune defense system to stave off cancer.

The nanovaccine was tested in a variety of tumor mouse models, such as melanoma, colorectal cancer, and human papillomavirus-related cancers of the cervix, head, neck, and anogenital regions. In most cases, the nanovaccine slowed tumor growth and extended survival.

With the help of new advancements and the emergence of novel nanotechnology tools, the field of nanoparticle vaccines has been able to expand, according to the authors.

“Recent advances in understanding innate and adaptive immunity have also led to more collaborations between immunologists and nanotechnologists,” Dr Chen said. “These partnerships are critical in propelling the rapid development of new generations of nanovaccines.”

Currently, the investigators are exploring clinical testing of the STING-activating nanovaccine to different cancer indications.

“The STING-activating nanovaccine offers a simple, safe, and robust strategy in boosting anti-tumor immunity for cancer immunotherapy,” the authors concluded.