News Column

Two-lock box delivers cancer therapy

May 20, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Life Science Weekly -- The Rice lab of bioengineer Junghae Suh has developed an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that unlocks only in the presence of two selected proteases, enzymes that cut up other proteins for disposal. Because certain proteases are elevated at tumor sites, the viruses can be designed to target and destroy the cancer cells (see also Rice University).

The work appears online this week in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.

AAVs are fairly benign and have become the object of intense study as delivery vehicles for gene therapies. Researchers often try to target AAVs to cellular receptors that may be slightly overexpressed on diseased cells.

The Rice lab takes a different approach. "We were looking for other types of biomarkers beyond cellular receptors present at disease sites," Suh said. "In breast cancer, for example, it's known the tumor cells oversecrete extracellular proteases, but perhaps more important are the infiltrating immune cells that migrate into the tumor microenvironment and start dumping out a whole bunch of proteases as well.

Suh said elevated proteases are found around many diseased tissues. She suggested these protease-activatable viruses may be useful for the treatment of not only cancers but also neurological diseases, such as stroke, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and heart diseases, including myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.

The ultimate vision of this technology is to design viruses that can carry out a combination of steps for targeting. "To increase the specificity of virus unlocking, you can imagine creating viruses that require many more keys to open," she said. "For example, you may need both proteases A and B as well as a cellular receptor to unlock the virus. The work reported here is a good first step toward this goal."

Keywords for this news article include: Therapy, Viruses, Virology, Rice University.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC


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Source: Life Science Weekly


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