October 4, 2023

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Plant virus is expected to be a new breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy

Plant virus is expected to be a new breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy

Plant virus is expected to be a new breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy.

Advanced Science: Unexpected! This plant virus is expected to become a new breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy.

Brief Introduction:

Recently, a study published in the “Advanced Science” magazine found that a new type of cancer therapy is based on a plant virus-Cowpea Mosaic Virus (CPMV). It uses S100A9 as a target protein to manufacture plant virus nanoparticles, which are implanted in the lungs to help the immune system recognize cancer cells, thereby triggering an immune response.

This response may be the key to more effective treatment of a variety of cancers, and immunotherapy has become the most effective treatment. One of the promising cancer treatment options. The team tested CPMV on breast cancer or melanoma tumors in laboratory mice, and the results were very effective. Phytoviral therapy significantly reduced the tumors that spread to the lungs, and some even disappeared completely.

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego used a virus that grows in black-eyed pea plants to develop a new treatment that can keep metastatic cancer away from the lungs. This treatment not only slowed the growth of tumors in the lungs of mice with metastatic breast cancer or melanoma, it also prevented or greatly reduced the spread of these cancers to the lungs of healthy mice challenged by the disease.

Recently, this research was published in the “Advanced Science” magazine, and the researchers published an article entitled “S100A9-Targeted Cowpea Mosaic Virus as a Prophylactic and Therapeutic Immunotherapy against Metastatic Breast Cancer and Melanoma”.

Plant virus is expected to be a new breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy

The spread of cancer to the lungs is one of the most common forms of metastasis among various cancers. Once there, it is extremely deadly and difficult to treat.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering have developed an experimental treatment to combat this spread. It includes the body injection of a plant virus called Cowpea Mosaic Virus (CPMV) (the cowpea plant infected with it grows spotted leaves, hence the name). This virus is harmless to animals and humans, but it still appears as an alien invader, triggering an immune response and making the body more effective in fighting cancer.

The idea is to use plant viruses to help the human immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells in the lungs. Nicole Steinmetz, professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego and director of the University’s Nanoimmunology Engineering Center, said: “The virus itself is not contagious in our body, but it has all these red flags that warn immune cells to enter attack mode and look for pathogens.”

In order to produce this immune response to lung tumors, Steinmetz’s laboratory designed nanoparticles made of cowpea mosaic virus, targeting a protein in the lung. This protein, called S100A9, is expressed and secreted by immune cells to help fight lung infections. There is another reason that prompted Steinmetz’s team to target the protein: overexpression of S100A9 has been observed to play a role in tumor growth and spread.

Steinmetz said: “In order for our immunotherapy to work in the case of lung metastasis, we need to target nanoparticles to the lungs. Therefore, we used S100A9 as the target protein to make these plant virus nanoparticles and implant them into the lungs. In the lungs, these nanoparticles recruit immune cells so that the tumor does not recur.”

Eric Chung, a student in the Steinmetz lab and one of the first authors of this paper, a PhD in bioengineering, said: “Because these nanoparticles tend to be located in the lungs, they can change the tumor microenvironment there and make them better at To fight cancer, not only established tumors, but also future tumors.”

To prepare the nanoparticles, the researchers cultivated black-eyed pea plants in the laboratory, infected them with the cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV), and harvested the virus in the form of spherical nanoparticles. Then, they attached the S100A9 targeting molecule to the particle surface.

For more than two decades, Steinmetz has been studying how to modify plant viruses, hoping to treat animal cancers, develop animal vaccines, and treat plant diseases. Steinmetz said: “I like to joke that we are using natural soil and sunlight to produce nanotechnology, but this is essentially what we do. We grow plants, infect plants, and then harvest viruses. Plants are our biological response. Device.”

Plant virus is expected to be a new breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy

Researchers conducted prevention and treatment studies. In the prevention study, they first injected plant virus nanoparticles into the blood of healthy mice, and then injected triple-negative breast cancer or melanoma cells into these mice. Compared with untreated mice, the treated mice showed a significant reduction in cancer spread to the lungs.

In the treatment study, researchers injected nanoparticles into mice with metastatic tumors in their lungs. These mice had smaller lung tumors and survived longer than untreated mice.

The researchers pointed out that these results are remarkable in that they show effectiveness against extremely aggressive cancer cell lines. Chung said: “So, any changes in survival rates or lung metastases are very amazing. In fact, we have reached the level of prevention that we have done, which is really very surprising.”

Steinmetz envisions that this treatment is particularly useful for patients after tumors have been removed. She said: “This does not mean that injections for everyone can completely prevent lung cancer. On the contrary, it will be used for those at high risk of tumor recurrence as a metastatic disease, which usually manifests in the lungs. This will help them. The lungs provide protection against cancer metastasis.”

Before new treatments reach that stage, researchers need to do more detailed immunotoxicity and pharmacological studies. Future research will also explore combining it with other treatments such as chemotherapy, checkpoint drugs or radiotherapy.

(source:internet, reference only)

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