NIBIB Develops New Technology Using Natural Proteins that Help in the Fight against Cancer

Feb 23, 2018

Finding a “cure for cancer” has long been considered an aspiration just out of medicine’s reach. Small-scale cancer vaccination trials have yielded positive results, however scientists have run into complications when they’ve tried to scale up these vaccines for widespread production. But in a positive step forward, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) recently announced that it has developed technology that allows nanovaccines to bind to the albumin protein, which naturally carries the nanocomplexes from the vaccine to the lymph nodes, resulting in immunity from multiple types of tumors in mouse cancer models.

First writer and NBIB post-doctoral fellow Guizhi Zhu, Ph.D. explained “We designed a vaccine that binds to a protein called albumin normally found in the body that also regularly filters through the lymph nodes. Thus the vaccine essentially hitches a ride with albumin to travel to the lymph nodes, eliminating the need to create a separate delivery vehicle. Given that large-scale manufacturing and long-term safety are the primary hurdles of current nanovaccine technology, our approach offers a detour to accelerate eventual use of nanomedicines in the clinic.”

These vaccines, called AlbiVax, were tested against several different types of tumors in a variety of manners to comprehensively test the efficacy. In one test, seven tumor-free mice were given the AlbiVax injection, followed 70 days later by a large dose of tumor cells. Five of the seven mice survived more than four more months, at which point they received another dose of the AlbiVax injection. Four of the five mice lived more than six months following this. Blood tests taken four months following the second AlbiVax injection showed the mice had immune cells specifically killing thymus tumor cells at this time. This raises hope that this technology can eventually be applied to humans.

For further information on this new technology, click here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02191-y