UNC researchers identify promising delivery method for immunotherapy combination

CHAPEL HILL – Using nanoparticles to bind molecules that can unleash and stimulate immune cells, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers found they could more effectively trigger the body’s defenses system against cancer in laboratory studies.

The researchers believe their findings, published in the journal Advanced Materials, offer a promising new nanotechnology-based delivery method for an immunotherapy combination.

“Our study suggests that if you’re able to present two different therapeutics at the same time to immune cells to help them fight cancer, the effect is greater,” said UNC Lineberger’s Andrew Z. Wang, associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. “It’s difficult to deliver them at the same time unless you tie them together, and a nanoparticle is one great way to tie the two together.”

Immune cells called T-cells can fight and kill tumors, but they have regulatory signals that limit their effectiveness. Treatments called checkpoint inhibitors have been developed to “release the brakes” on immune cells, and have been shown to be a powerful tool to fight lung cancer and melanoma for a subset of patients. Clinical trials have launched to test combining checkpoint inhibitors that release the immune system’s


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