Researchers from the Zaragoza UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) have announced the development of a new nanoparticle that selectively targets cervical cancer cells, while sparing healthy tissue from damage. The nanoparticles ferry interleukin-2 (IL -2), a protein that’s normally produced by the T-cells of the immune system to differentiate between foreign material and the body itself, and to direct the actions of white blood cells. It has also been used in various therapies to kill cancer cells.
The nanoparticles are attracted by cancer cells and attach to them, releasing high concentrations of IL-2 into the tumor. Moreover, the same mechanism activates the immune system to jump into action and attack the tumor with its own bag of tricks. Because a person with cancer often has a diminished production of IL-2, the targeted delivery of large quantities of the cytokine helps overcome the tumor’s proactive defenses against the immune system. The team tested the therapeutic nanoparticles on animal models with promising success for humans.