Neutrophils Used As ‘Trojan Horse’ To Target Brain Tumors

Scientists in China have loaded immune cells with nanoparticles containing an antitumor drug for cancer therapy and imaging.

AsianScientist (Nov. 26, 2018) – A team of researchers at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, has developed a cell-based ‘trojan horse’ for cancer therapy and imaging. They published their findings in Nature Communications.

Cell-based drug delivery systems have been increasingly explored as a means to carry drugs to tumors. However, imaging the migration of these drug-carrying cells in vivo and measuring their effects remain challenging.

In this study, a research team led by Professor Zheng Hairong at SIAT has used neutrophils, a type of immune cell, as a carrier of drug-laden nanoparticles for cancer therapy. Because neutrophils possess the native ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and the blood-tumor barrier, they are ideal for infiltrating tumor masses.

The researchers first induced the neutrophils to engulf magnetic mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MMSNs). The magnetic Fe3O4 core enhances the visibility of the neutrophils under MRI, while the mesoporous silica shell allows the encapsulation and sustained release of chemotherapeutic agents. In this case, the researchers loaded the nanoparticles with the antitumor drug doxorubicin.

They found that the doxorubicin-loaded MMSNs (D-MMSNs) possessed high drug loading efficiency and did not affect the host neutrophils’ viability. After injection of D-MMSN-carrying neutrophils into a mouse model of glioma—a type of brain tumor—the researchers found that the neutrophils accumulated at tumors which had been partially removed by surgery. This suggested that the neutrophils were homing in on inflammation.

Subsequently, the neutrophils released their payload of D-MMSNs into the tumor, enabling precise diagnosis and high anti-glioma efficacy. Mice receiving this cell-based therapy had a higher survival rate and delayed glioma relapse.

The researchers noted that their strategy provides a method to track the fate of neutrophils by MRI and explore immune cell-based drug delivery systems for treating diseases associated with inflammation.

The article can be found at: Wu et al. (2018) MR Imaging Tracking of Inflammation-activatable Engineered Neutrophils for Targeted Therapy of Surgically Treated Glioma.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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