Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is the most common type of lung cancer, has persisted to be challenging to treat, with 5-year survival rates of about 36% for stage 3A tumors. Scientists from the Jefferson College of Pharmacy have been devising an innovative, nanotechnology-based treatment strategy that was recently demonstrated to be efficacious in mouse models of the disease. The study was reported in the Molecular Pharmaceutics journal.
The team designed the nanoparticles to deliver a molecule that has been demonstrated to be effective in delaying tumor growth and might even make tumors more vulnerable to chemotherapy. Named microRNA 29b, the molecule would be inefficacious if delivered by only injection because it gets rapidly degraded in the bloodstream or is picked up and eliminated by immune cells.
In order to overcome these drawbacks, Sunday Shoyele, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) and his team designed a nanoparticle including four parts. First, part of immunoglobulin G (IgG), a human antibody, was included by Dr. Shoyele to cloak the particle from the immune system. Then, the research group added the MUC1 antigen, which functions similar to a navigation system and guides the nanoparticles to the MUC1-covered lung tumors. Lastly, microRNA-29b, the therapeutic payload, was glued together with the other two components with the help of a sticky polymer known as poloxamer-188.
Dr. Shoyele and his team demonstrated that these components together gave rise to a spherical nanoparticle with the capability to accurately find the lung tumors and shrink the tumors in the mouse models of the disease.
This work extends our previous work demonstrating that these particles were effective in shrinking tumor tissue in a petri dish. Here we show that they are also effective in a more complex living system.
More tests would have to be conducted before the technology is ready to be tested in human clinical trials. Dr. Shoyele has intended to continue the study by performing comprehensive toxicity tests and scaling the nanoparticle manufacturing process for clinical trials.
The research was supported by the Science Center, Philadelphia, under the QED grant number S1402 and also by Thomas Jefferson University.