The evaluation of nanomaterials-mediated induction of immunogenic cell death for tumor therapy
Conventional cancer treatment, encompassing either radiation, surgery or chemotherapy is insufficient to treat all tumor types. Novel methods are being explored, among which immunotherapy (aimed at activating the immune system to detect and destroy tumor cells) and nanomedicine (the use of nanosized materials (NMs) for the targeted delivery of therapeutics) are receiving great interest. We have demonstrated that by finely tuning NM degradation kinetics, they can exert selective toxicity on cancer cells. The therapeutic efficacy of these NMs was further found to be increased by the presence of a fully functional immune system. Here, we aim to exploit these intrinsic properties of NMs to activate the immune system, coupled with their selective toxicity towards cancer cells. We will first study the ability of the NMs to induce cancer cell death in a way that activates the immune system (immunogenic cell death). Next, we will look at the ability of the NMs to act as therapeutic agents either by themselves or in combination with common immunotherapy agents against a series of tumor models with different levels of immune suppression. The data gathered in this study will form the sound scientific basis to propose the use of these novel types of pharmaceutical agents in clinically applicable settings.