Mimicking Immune Cells To Treat Breast Cancer

Researchers in China have developed a biomimetic strategy that could pave the way for targeted breast cancer therapy.

AsianScientist (Sep. 13, 2018) – A team of scientists in China has created nanoparticles that mimic immune cells to treat metastatic breast cancer. Their findings are published in Advanced Materials.

Immune cells such as cytotoxic T lymphocytes play an important role in recognizing and destroying abnormal cells. However, the tumor microenvironment is frequently immunosuppressive, which means that the immune cells are ‘switched off’ by molecules produced by cancer cells, thereby allowing the cancer to persist and spread throughout the body.

In the present study, scientists led by Professor Li Yaping from the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) created nanovesicles that mimicked cytotoxic T lymphocytes. The nanovesicle contained a cell membrane-derived shell that encapsulated methylene blue and cisplatin, which are toxic to cancer cells. Since the nanovesicles had ‘faces’ similar to normal cells in the body, they could persist in the circulation before being leaked into the tumor.

The researchers were able to monitor in real time the accumulation of the nanovesicles in breast cancer cells. Importantly, the nanovesicles could be triggered by a laser to release their toxic payload within breast tumors. Unlike the cytotoxic T lymphocytes they mimic, the nanovesicles are not suppressed by the tumor microenvironment.

Using animal models, the researchers showed that the nanovesicles could cause partial regression of primary breast tumors and inhibit pulmonary metastasis by 97 percent. They noted that this approach could inspire future biomimetic nanomedicines that respond to chemical, physical or biological cues in tumors.

The article can be found at: Zhai et al. (2018) Traceable Bioinspired Nanoparticle for the Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer via NIR‐Trigged Intracellular Delivery of Methylene Blue and Cisplatin.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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