UT Southwestern Medical Center physicians have come up with an innovative nanotherapeutic drug that has the ability to prevent cancer from spreading to the liver in mice.
The new liver-specific microRNA drug, developed by a team headed by Andrew Wang MD, is considered a promising candidate for drug companies that created messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for COVID-19, due to similarities in these RNA agents.
This might be one ray of hope that comes out of the pandemic. It takes major funding and resources to develop nanoparticles that can deliver nucleic acids such as mRNA and miRNA.
Andrew Wang, Professor and Associate Vice Chair of Research, Radiation Oncology, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Andrew Wang added, “Before the development of COVID-19 vaccines, the cost was prohibitive. But now that several platforms have been developed and approved, these platforms/nanoparticles can be utilized for other applications such as what we developed in mice models in my lab.”
Wang is the author of a rodent-based study reported in the Cancer Research journal. Wang is also a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The study drug’s core was created by complexing miR-122 along with calcium phosphate, and lipids were wrapped around the core to produce the nanoparticle. The drug delivers the miR-122 into hepatocytes, which make them “healthier” by aiding in preventing cancer cells from fixing themselves in the liver.
Even though the drug was tested only in mice, it is known to be a valued advance in the combat against cancer, as up to 70% of people with conditions like colorectal cancer end up developing liver metastases.
Liver metastases are second only to lung metastases, so new therapeutics in this area are an urgent need in oncology. Dr. Wang’s study is promising because it showed minimal toxicity.
Carlos L Arteaga MD, Director, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center
Arteaga holds The Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology.
The study was financially supported and initial drug development was offered by the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health U54CA198999, NIH T32CA196589 and the University of North Carolina Research Opportunity Initiative.
Sendi, H., et al. (2022) Nanoparticle Delivery of miR-122 Inhibits Colorectal Cancer Liver Metastasis. Cancer Research. doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.can-21-2269.