New 2-in-1 Israeli cancer treatment shows promise in helping effectiveness of chemotherapy

Lab results from animal testing show encouraging signs


A new cancer drug is being developed by scientists at Tel Aviv University that can improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

A peer-reviewed study posted by the scientific journal Advanced Materials, showed that there are positive benefits to the new drug based on studies conducted on mice and in vitro studies.

The new drug is a world’s first nanoparticle RNA based treatment, to deliver an effective improvement to both types of therapy for battling cancer.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University, where the drug was first made and trialled, are hoping that their research team is able to start human trials of the drug, after its initial successful testing.

Dr. Seok-Beom Yong, a scientist part of Tel Aviv’s research team said: Usually the targets for chemotherapy and immunotherapy are not the same, which means it is hard to do with a single drug.

“But we did it, and found a single drug that boosts both chemotherapy and immunotherapy,” he added.

The combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, dubbed chemo-immunotherapy, has been regarded as something with huge potential for battling specific forms of cancer, despite the practice being in its infancy.

The idea behind the combined therapies is that they complement each other. While chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, the immunotherapy then provides assistance to the immune system cells to find and destroy any cancer cells that remain.

Professor. Dan Peer, Vice president for research and development at TAU, has seen that some people may not respond to current chemo-immunotherapy as the delivery of the medicine isn’t targeted to precise areas enough.

However the new drug, which uses nanoparticles to release its contents at specific cells, ensures that immunotherapy is delivered to the immune system cells where needed and chemotherapy is delivered to cancer cells.

Professor Peer said: “In our system, a single nanoparticle is capable of operating in two different arenas.

“It increases the sensitivity of cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy, while also reinvigorating immune cells and increasing their sensitivity to cancer cells. Thus, with one precisely targeted nanoparticle, we provide two different treatments at very different sites.”

He also said: “We tested this system in two types of lab models. In both populations, we observed positive effects on our delivery system."

Dr. Seok Beom Yong, who is working alongside Professor Peer on the project, said “Chemo-immunotherapy is the most promising anti-cancer strategy today, and this development could make it more viable.”

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