Researchers from the University of North Carolina have discovered that they can potentially improve cancer immunotherapy drugs by binding 2 compounds to a single nanoparticle. The team’s work was presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
“Our data shows that 2 compounds on a single nanoparticle will make immunotherapy treatments even more effective,” senior author Dr. Andrew Wang said in prepared remarks.
The team evaluated nanoparticles as a delivery vehicle for checkpoint inhibitors and T-cell agonists in a preclinical model.
T-cells, a type of immune cell, have “checkpoints” that act to ensure the T-cells don’t attack things inside the body that should be left alone. A checkpoint inhibitor turns off the checkpoint, which enables T-cells to detect and attack cancer cells.
But in some cases, a checkpoint inhibitor may not be enough, the researchers said. So the team combined the checkpoint inhibitor with a T-cell agonist, which is designed to trigger T-cell activation.
“Some agents help T-cells with proliferation and survival, while others overcome the T-cells’ self-regulation and inhibition,” 1st author Yu Mi said. “Nanoparticles provide us with a tool to co-deliver different agents to T-cells so they will be activated by both of the agents at the same time.”
In preclinical models, the team reported better stimulation of T-cells and better survival rates compared to a control.
“We found that the therapeutic effect of nanoparticles is far better than the mixture of free agents,” Mi said.