A group of researchers at Tel Aviv University has developed a nano vaccine for melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer. The drug shows absolute efficacy in preventing the development of melanoma, related tumors and related metastases in mice.
The core of the research is a nanoparticle which forms the basis of the vaccine. The research is led by prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, head of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of the Laboratory for Research on Cancer and Nanomedicines at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. The results have just been published in Nature Nanotechnology.
The enemy number one
Melanoma develops in the skin cells that produce melanin. "the war on cancer, and melanoma in particular, has gone through many phases over the years characterized by different treatments. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy. Only the vaccine approach had not yet been attempted, " says the Prof. Satchi-Fainaro. "In our study, we showed for the first time that it is possible to produce an effective vaccine against melanoma and get responses from the immune system."
Melanoma Vaccine: Research
The researchers made tiny particles (about 170 nanometers) with a biodegradable polymer. In each particle they then inserted two peptides generally expressed in melanoma cells, and injected this nano vaccine thus obtained into mice.
The answer was not long in coming: as with the "traditional" vaccines, the nanoparticles stimulated the immune system of the mice, which learned to distinguish and attack the melanoma inside the body.
The second phase was the evaluation of efficacy in the presence of three different conditions.
First condition, the vaccine has been shown to have preventive effects. It was injected into healthy subjects, then melanoma cells were injected, and the subject did not get sick. "
Second condition, the nanoparticles have been used to treat a primary tumor: vaccine and immunotherapy have been used together on already sick mice. The treatment slowed down to almost stop the progression of the disease, extending the life of all treated guinea pigs.
Third condition, the researchers tested the approach on tissues taken from patients with melanoma who metastasized to the brain. It worked like that too.
"Our research has opened the doors to a totally new treatment that breaks down melanoma even in the worst stages of development," concludes Satchi-Fainaro. "Not only that: we think our platform is also useful for other types of cancer. The nano vaccine may be the right way. "