A new study recently revealed that enhancing the natural killer or NK cells using magnetic particles could result in more efficient cancer immunotherapy.

In a Phys.org report, it was specified in the Northwestern Medicine study that this approach could unlock the potential to use NK cells on an assortment of solid tumors.

According to Radiology associate professor Dong-Hyun Kim, Ph.D., from the Division of Basic and Translational Radiology Research and the study's senior author, people have had trouble employing NK cells to solid tumors.

Kim is the director of Biomaterials for Image-Guided Medicine or BIGMed laboratory. He is also a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. If an easy path to moderate or control NK cells can be provided, this can probably turn into a helpful treatment.

The study, Magneto-Activation and Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Natural Killer Cells Labeled with Magnetic Nanocomplexes for the Treatment of Solid Tumors, is published in ACS Nano publication.

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Science Times - Magnetic Nanoparticles: Study Shows New Method That Could Unlock Potential for More Effective Cancer Immunotherapy
(Photo: Zhang Shu, Shulin Wang - Zhang Shu et al. on Wikimedia Commons)
Image of nanoparticles

NK Cells

Most immunotherapies that are cell-based are targeting T-cells, part of the adaptive immune system of the body. Nonetheless, these CAR T-cell therapies or chimeric antigen receptors come with a costly, long incubation period and strong side effects.

In contrast, NK cells are part of the innate immune system of the body. They are also more rapid to respond to anything strange.

Kim explained that many researchers had explored the probability of NK cell immunotherapy, although that too has obstacles.

The associate professor added that it is quite challenging for these cells to enter the tumors as they have thick barrier tissues.

Approaches to enhance the function of the NK cell through the use of cytokines have fundamentally fallen flat and are conditional on some of the similar issues as observed in CAR T-cell treatment, high cost, and a long period of manufacturing time.

What are Magnetic Nanoparticles?

According to the National Library of medicine, magnetic nanoparticles exhibit interesting and substantially different magnetic properties compared to those found in their equivalent bulk materials.

Such nanoparticles can be synthesized in many ways like physical and chemical approaches, with manageable sizes allowing their comparison to biological creatures from cells, genes, and viruses down to proteins.

The nanoparticles' size optimization, distribution of size, coating, shapes, and agglomeration, together with their distinctive magnetic properties, stimulated the use of nanoparticles of this particular type in different fields.

Magnetic Nanocomplex

The previous work of Kim with nanoparticles, though, served as an inspiration differently. Together with his collaborators, the associate professor developed a magnetic nanocomplex, binding with NK cells, and when activated with a substituting magnetic field, uses force on the cell's exterior, promoting the cytotoxic compounds' secretion.

The study investigators discovered that magnetic activation enhanced the ability to kill cancer of NK cells when injected into solid tumors.

The researchers discovered this by testing the said magnetic nanocomplex in animal prototypes of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Moreover, such nanoparticles are envisioned on magnetic resonance imaging, allowing for accurate monitoring of the distribution of NK cells, as described in the British Society for Immunology while being injected and after the procedure. Kim said this then produces a stronger NK cell and can optimistically improve the treatment's efficacy.

Related information about nanoparticle drugs is shown on Nanobot Medical Animation Studio's YouTube video below:


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