Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed nanodiscs that deliver a customized therapeutic vaccine to treat colon and melanoma cancer in mice. The team’s work was published in Nature Materials.
“We are basically educating the immune system with these nanodiscs so that immune cells can attack cancer cells in a personalized manner,” senior author James Moon said in prepared remarks.
The team loaded the nanodiscs with unique mutations founds in tumor cells and generated T-cells to recognize the specific mutations in order to target the tumor. “The idea is that these vaccine nanodiscs will trigger the immune system to fight the existing cancer cells in a personalized manner,” Moon explained.
After the team gave the nanodisc vaccine to mice with melanoma and colon cancer tumors, they observed that 27% of T-cells in the mice’s blood targeted the tumors. When the nanodisc was combined with immune checkpoint inhibitors, the treatment killed tumors within 10 days of treatment.
After 70 days, researchers injected the same mice with the tumor cells that were extracted from the tumor they previously had and saw that the tumors were rejected by the immune system. “This suggests the immune system ‘remembered’ the cancer cells for long-term immunity,” lead researcher Rui Kuai said.
“The holy grail in cancer immunotherapy is to eradicate tumors and prevent future recurrence without systemic toxicity, and our studies have produced very promising results in mice,” Moon added. The team’s next step will be to test the vaccine in a larger animal model.
A spinoff biotech company, EVOQ Therapeutics, was founded to translate the team’s results to the clinic.