Researchers at the University of Zurich have developed a virus-based therapy that causes a tumor to be destroyed. They modified an adenovirus, which is a common virus that commonly infects the airways and is already widely used in medicine, to supply genetic material encoding an anticancer protein. In a stealthy move, the researchers designed the therapy so that the virus would infect the tumor cells, forcing them to destroy themselves.
Cancer therapies are constantly evolving. Immunotherapies, which include antibodies that stimulate the immune system to destroy cancer cells, are the latest class of therapy in the fight against cancer. Immunotherapy wants to be more selective and produce fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy agents. However, side effects remain a problem and more localized therapies would be accepted.
This last technique wants to be more localized and consists of stimulating the target cells so that they produce therapeutic proteins precisely in the area they need: the tumor. “We tricked the tumor into being removed by producing anticancer agents on its own cells,” said Sheena Smith, a researcher involved in the study, in an ad from the University of Zurich. “Therapeutic agents, such as therapeutic antibodies or signaling substances, mostly remain in the place of the body where they are needed instead of spreading through the bloodstream where they can damage healthy organs and tissues,” added Andreas Plueckthun, another researcher involved. in the project.
The technology combines an adenoviral vector normally associated with gene therapy or vaccines, but the genetic load encodes an anticancer antibody, trastuzumab. The team of researchers calls their system Shielded and Reoriented Adenovirus (SHREAD) and incorporates several elements they have previously developed for adenoviral vectors, including the ability to target them to specific tissues based on cell surface markers. and help them bypass the immune system. .
To date, researchers have tested the system in mice and shown that the viral vector resulted in significant levels of trastuzumab production in target tissues. Excitingly, the system may be relevant in the treatment of other diseases where localized production of protein therapies is desired, including COVID-19. Adenovirus is already being deployed in COVID-19 vaccines.
“By delivering SHREAD treatment to patients using an inhaled aerosol, our approach could enable the targeted production of Covid antibody therapies to lung cells, where they are most needed,” Smith said. “This would reduce costs, increase accessibility to Covid therapies and also improve vaccine delivery with the inhalation approach.”
Study a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: The SHREAD gene therapy platform for paracrine delivery improves tumor localization and intratumoral effects of a clinical antibody
Via: University of Zurich