Researchers are using nano-particles to fight cancer cells.
Technology developed at Bar-Ilan University enhances the body’s own natural killer cells (NK-cells) to better attack the tumor.
It effectively silences messages from the tumor itself that deactivate these NK-cells.
“Our research proved the feasibility of using nano-particles to enhance immune system activity, in this case of NK-cells, against human hematological malignancies,” said Prof. Mira Barda-Saad, whose research has been published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Natural killer cells (NK-cells) are a potent defense weapon that help the immune system in its fight against viral infections, tumor growth and the spread of cancerous metastases.
Cancer researchers have long understood that natural killer cells have important potential to treat cancer by immunotherapy, since they have the ability, under certain circumstances, to readily and efficiently kill cancer cells and attack them.
But they need to be manipulated using molecular or genetic engineering outside the body in order to enhance their therapeutic efficacy against cancer.
Barda-Saad’s team has found a way to interfere with the gene that deactivates the NK-cells within the body so they can go ahead and fulfill their task, namely reducing the tumor mass.
She said: “The use of nano-particles in this innovative and groundbreaking domain of next generation immunotherapeutic drugs enhances the immune response against pathogens that cause illness.
“We saw that this technology was successful in Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines, and I firmly believe that by combining it with the right molecules detected in our laboratory we will be able to harness it in the fight against cancer.”
Going forward, she says particles will be created that can be administered orally to patients. And the technology could be extended beyond cancer to viral infections and other pathological conditions.