Although chemotherapy and radiotherapy kill cancerous cells, these methods still cause harmful side effects to the body. These therapies are unable to determine a healthy cell from cancerous cells. There are temporary and permanent side effects that a patient might experience after undergoing several therapy sessions. For this reason, medical researchers worked on an innovative way to fight cancer that won’t lead to other health risks.
A study by scientists from the University of Zurich involved altering a common respiratory virus called adenovirus. The purpose of modifying the virus is to create therapeutic agents that will act as a Trojan horse. This newly devised procedure will allow the body to disseminate therapeutic agents in required areas — specifically where there are cancer cells. Since the agents are wired to invade cancer tumors, healthy cells are safe from harmful side effects that usually occur in other therapies.
“The therapeutic agents, such as therapeutic antibodies or signaling substances, mostly stay at the place in the body where they’re needed instead of spreading throughout the bloodstream where they can damage healthy organs and tissues,” Andreas Plueckthun explained. Therapeutic antibodies will invade the insides of the tumor cells, causing destruction from the inside out. The team calls the new technology SHREAD, which stands for SHielded, REtargeted ADenovirus.
With the help of this new method, the invaded tumor can produce trastuzumab, a breast cancer antibody. A few days after the experiment, the team discovered that SHREAD releases more antibodies inside the tumor. There was an increase in production compared to when the drug was injected, and it also lowered side effects in the bloodstream and other tissues.
SHREAD is based on the technology formerly engineered by the Plueckthun team. They also utilized a high-resolution 3D imaging method and tissues to present how the process works. Interestingly, the group mentioned that SHREAD is capable of fighting breast cancer and can also be used for COVID-19.
“By delivering the SHREAD treatment to patients via an inhaled aerosol, our approach could allow targeted production of Covid antibody therapies in lung cells, where they are needed most,” Sheena Smith explains. “This would reduce costs, increase accessibility of Covid therapies and also improve vaccine delivery with the inhalation approach.” Adenoviral vectors are already utilized for existing COVID-19 vaccines. The Plueckthun team is currently working on a COVID-19 therapy project incorporating the SHREAD system.Whizzco