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Trojan Horse Nanotherapy --- Fight Breast Cancer

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Hi friends, just sharing the following here:

Building a Trojan Horse to fight breast cancer


Oct. 8, 2020


With a nearly $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Michigan State University researchers are using nanoscopic particles to turn the body's own cells into weapons that cancer won't see coming.

"We are developing a precision, 'Trojan Horse' nanotherapy that treats breast cancer without the typical side effects," said Bryan Smith, an associate professor in MSU's Biomedical Engineering Department and director of the Translational NanoImmunoEngineering, or T-NIE, Lab.

"If we can show this is effective in animal models and bring it to humans, there is tremendous potential for cancer patients," he said.

Led by Smith, the research team is working to overcome cancer's devious defenses and help the body's immune system infiltrate tumors. This approach, which Smith is also deploying to fend off plaques that clog and damage arteries, promises to minimize the collateral damage caused by related cancer therapies.

The group's new NIH project focuses on macrophages, cells that are part of the immune system that normally ingest -- and digest -- pathogens and other malignant intruders. Many cancer cells, however, have developed a defense. They coat themselves with a protein known as CD47.

"They call it the 'don't eat me' molecule," Smith said, adding that CD47 is a protein that many of the body's healthy cells use to tell macrophages to leave them be.

As breast cancer grows, the body recognizes something is wrong and sends macrophages to gobble up the perpetrators. But the cancer cells' CD47 holds the immune cells at bay.

Researchers and clinicians are thus very interested in drugs that can neutralize CD47 or the proteins on macrophages that recognize CD47. As an example of that, Smith noted that the biotech company Gilead Sciences spent nearly $5 billion to acquire the startup company Forty Seven, which was investigating one such treatment.