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TLR2/6 agonist-boosting immunogenecity of tumour-targeting RNAi-based nanomedicines

The University of Newcastle

  • RNA Future Leaders Program
Date Funded:
  • 3 August, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett

Project Summary

The team will determine the therapeutic potential of a drug based on incorporating an immune stimulating molecule within a nanomedicine that uses RNA to increase anti-tumour activity.

The main researcher for this project is Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett.

What is the issue for NSW?

Many cancers do not have adequate treatments available meaning poor prognosis for patients. Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment that holds promise for many cancers. This class of medicines helps activate your immune system to kill the cancer cells. One of the big challenges with immunotherapy is getting the drug safely to the tumour where it can then stimulate the anti-tumour immune response. We have been working with an immune stimulating drug that is effective at boosting immune mediated tumour cell killing. We have also been working on a nanoparticle-based delivery platform that facilitates safe and effective drug delivery. This project will generate nanoparticles carrying immune stimulating molecules that we envisage will enhance tumour killing activity. In doing so we will determine if this is a viable strategy for cancer immunotherapy that we hope will enable development of a new class of cancer killing drugs that will improve the health of patients.

What does the research aim to do and how?

The research aims to optimise formulation of nanoparticles with two immune active molecules. Initial testing will be conducted in immune cells (macrophages) in cell culture (in vitro). Nanoparticles will be designed to stimulate an immune receptor on the cell surface as well as deliver an RNA molecule into the cell that will further boost macrophage anti-tumour activity. We will thenĀ  use in vivo models to identify dosing regimen by which immune stimulating nanoparticles safely achieve the best stimulation of tumour associated immune cells and reduction in tumour size.