New Cell-Penetrating Peptide Technology Could Improve Cancer Treatment

TAT-CaM could potentially have a multitude of applications, including cancer treatment.

In a recent study, researchers developed a new cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) technology that could improve many treatments, including cosmetic procedures and cancer.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Cell Science, CPP is a short chain of amino acids that can cross membranes of living cells. This new CPP technology has thousands of possible applications.

This technology is able to carry molecular “cargos” directly into living cells. It then couples with the cell and then uncouples after it delivers its contents.

These cargos can be molecules, such as antibodies to fight parasites or diseases. Anti-cancer proteins could also be delivered by CPP technology.

Researchers developed a recombinant CPP through a viral protein fragment fused to the human protein Calmodulin.

The prototype researchers developed is called TAT-CaM and can deliver molecular cargos to many different cell types, including human retinoblastoma cells.

TAT-CaM attaches to and penetrates targeted cells, all while carrying biomolecules. Though many CPP technologies can do this, TAT-CaM releases its cargo once it enters the cell’s membrane.

"In theory, this will enable things like gene therapy to be conducted more effectively than before. TAT-CaM gets into cells faster than anything else we've ever seen,” Jonathan McMurry, PhD, the study’s lead author, concluded. "CPP technologies have been in development for years, but generally they have disappointed because, while most enter cells efficiently, their cargos remain bound to the CPP, which in turn gets trapped in undesired locations. They are like UPS drivers who might bring your packages to your front door, but then can't deliver them to you. Our CPP delivers the package -- and leaves it safely in your hands."