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UCLA scientists discover new way to wake up the immune system using nano vaults to deliver drugs
Date:5/3/2011

y a gene that caused the cells to secrete CCL21 and then injected into the patient's tumor using guided imaging.

"We thought if we could replace the dendritic cells with a nano-vehicle to deliver the CCL21, we would have an easier and less expensive treatment that also could be used at institutions that don't have GMP," Dubinett said.

If successful, the vault delivery method would add a desperately needed weapon to the arsenal in the fight against lung cancer, which accounts for nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States and kills one million people worldwide every year.

"It's crucial that we find new and more effective therapies to fight this deadly disease," Dubinett said. "Right now we don't have adequate options for therapies for advanced lung cancer."

The vault nanoparticles containing the CCL21 have been engineered to slowly release the protein into the tumor over time, producing an enduring immune response. Although the vaults protect the packed CCL21, they act like a time-release capsule, Rome said.

Rome, Dubinett and Sharma plan to test the vault delivery method in human studies within the next three years and hope the promising results found in the pre-clinical animal tumor models will be replicated. If such a study is approved, it would be the first time a vault nanoparticle is used in humans for a cancer immunotherapy.

The vault nanoparticle would require only a single injection into the tumor because of the slow-release design, and it eventually could be designed to be patient specific by adding the individual's tumor antigens into the vault, Dubinett said. The vaults may also be targeted by adding antibodies to their surface that recognize receptors on the tumor. The injection could then be delivered into the blood stream and the vault would navigate to the tumor, a less invasive process that would be easier on the patients. The vault could also seek out and target tumors and
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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