Since the COVID19 pandemic has hit the world, scientists have started using mRNA vaccines as a preventive tool to fight against the virus. However, before mRNA vaccines have become a potential tool amid the pandemic, experts around the world have been testing the potential use of this technology in cancer treatments. Now, experts from China’s National Center for Neuroscience and Technology (NCNST) have made a hydrogel to use mRNA vaccine along with an immune-stimulating adjuvant. They have given the vaccine to mice with cancer. They have seen that the vaccine has remained active for at least 30 days. The vaccine has been able to reduce the growth of cancer and stop metastasis. The findings of this study have been released in the American Chemical Society Journal called Nano Letters. Experts have said that the hydrogel delivery system has the potential to help mRNA vaccines to achieve long-lasting anti-cancer effects. This can be used as potent cancer immunotherapy, said the experts. In the case of COVID19, mRNA vaccines contain the genetic details, which train the body to generate a specific kind of protein to prompt a preferred immune response. In cancer, these vaccines decode cancer-related antigens so the immune system can identify cancer and eliminate it.
Experts have said that RNA is quite unstable and mRNA vaccines need to reach the lymph nodes to function properly. BioNTech has used tiny particles of fat, which are known as lipid nanoparticles to defend the core mRNA information for its FDA-approved COVID19 vaccine. These nanoparticles mortify and discharge once they reach the target tissue. The mRNA itself rapidly degrades after protein conversion. This short immune rendezvous is enough to fight against the COVID19 but in cancer therapy, a more long-lasting mRNA delivery is needed to obtain effective and stable treatment outcomes. For this reason, the team of experts from NCNST has made a hydrogel using graphene oxide and low-weight polyethylenimine. Due to its large surface area, graphene oxide can easily load drug substances. On the other hand, polyethylenimine helps bind the mRNA content for conversion. Experts have used Galderma’s TLR7/8 agonist resiquimod as an adjuvant to boost the stimulation and growth of antigen-specific CD8+T cells, which are crucial for anti-cancer immune responses. Scientists have used ovalbumin, which is a protein found in chicken egg whites as a model antigen to analyze the mRNA policy. They have blended the ovalbumin mRNA and the adjuvant with the hydrogel and infuses it under the skin of mice with melanoma tumors. At the end of the study, the study has noted that the hydrogel has been able to discharge the vaccine along with mRNA and adjuvant in particles for 30 days, and then it has helped it to migrate to lymph nodes as well.
Experts have said that they have given only one dose of injection of the complete therapy to mice. Animals that have received the injection have been found to have smaller tumors after 30 days as compared to mice that have received free adjuvant and mRNA without the hydrogel. The study has shown that mice that have received full therapy have been able to show the highest number of CD8+T cells, which have entered their tumors. The new mRNA gel treatment has been able to induce the highest level of ovalbumin-specific antibodies in the serum, which means it has not only reduced the growth of cancer but also reduced the risk of reoccurrence or formation of distant metastasis. Scientists have found no visible metastases in the lung tissues of mice that have received a full regimen. On the other hand, free adjuvant and mRNA treatment and non-adjuvant mRNA gel solution have been able to reduce metastases partially. Health experts have said that biopharma firms, which have introduced mRNA COVID19 vaccines to the market are interested in using the technology in cancer treatments