A new cancer immunotherapy approach uses nanoparticles carrying tumor RNA to target dendritic cells, leading to a strong anti-tumor response with antiviral-like features.
Researchers have been trying to develop vaccines to fight cancer for decades now, and it is now known to be more difficult than first thought. Cancer progression is not typically characterized by strong inflammatory signals that are necessary to initiate an immune response. Thus, most cancer vaccine strategies are aimed at directly activating a patient’s immune system. Since dendritic cells are extremely well suited at processing and presenting antigens for T cell activation, immunologists are currently working on developing vaccines that target these specialized antigen-presenting cells. Nanoparticles containing a tumor antigen and a dendritic-cell-targeting antibody have proven to be an effective strategy thus far.