Scientists Design a Nanoparticle That May Improve mRNA Cancer Vaccines

Tests in mice with melanoma and colon cancer show tiny particle creates an “army” of immune cells that carry vaccine’s instructions, researchers say.

Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists say they have developed a nanoparticle — an extremely tiny biodegradable container — that has the potential to improve the delivery of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based vaccines for infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and vaccines for treating non-infectious diseases including cancer.

Results of tests in mice, reported June 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the degradable, polymer-based nanoparticle carrying an mRNA-based vaccine, when injected into the bloodstream of mice, was able to travel to the spleen and activate certain cancer-fighting immune cells in a targeted way.

The researchers also found that mice with melanoma survived twice as long, and twice the number of mice with colorectal cancer survived long-term, following an injection of the Johns Hopkins-made nanoparticles compared with mice that received control treatments.

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