New technology makes tumour cells to self destruct

AREWA AGENDA – Scientists at the University of Zurich have modified a common respiratory virus, called adenovirus, to act as a Trojan horse to deliver genes for cancer therapeutics directly into tumour cells.

This innovation could reduce the side effects of cancer therapy and may hold the solution to better delivery of Covid-19 related therapies directly to the lungs.

Unlike chemotherapy or radiotherapy, this approach does no harm to normal healthy cells.

Once inside tumour cells, the delivered genes serve as a blueprint for therapeutic antibodies, cytokines and other signaling substances, which are produced by the cancer cells themselves and act to eliminate tumors from the inside out.

“We trick the tumour into eliminating itself through the production of anti-cancer agents by its own cells,” says postdoctoral fellow Sheena Smith, who led the development of the delivery approach.

Research group leader Andreas Plueckthun explains:” The therapeutic agents, such as therapeutic antibodies or signaling substances, mostly stay at the place in the body where they’re needed instead of spreading throughout the bloodstream where they can damage healthy organs and tissues.”

The UZH researchers call their technology SHREAD: for SHielded, REtargetted ADenovirus. It builds on key technologies previously engineered by the Plueckthun team, including directing adenoviruses to specified parts of the body to hide them from the immune system.

With the SHREAD system, the scientists made the tumour itself produce a clinically approved breast cancer antibody, called trastuzumab, in the mammary of a mouse. They found that, after a few days, SHREAD produced more of the antibody in the tumour than when the drug was injected directly. Moreover, the concentration in the bloodstream and in other tissues where side effects could occur were significantly lower with SHREAD.

The scientists used a very sophisticated, high-resolution 3D imaging method and tissues rendered totally transparent to show how the therapeutic antibody, produced in the body, creates pores in blood vessels of the tumor and destroys tumor cells, and thus treats it from the inside.

Vanguard News Nigeria

Arewa Agenda is a publication of young writers and journalists from Northern Nigeria geared towards peaceful coexistence and national development through positive narratives.

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