Nanotechnology, oncology

IMAGNA to develop therapeutic vaccine against cat fibrosarcoma

24 September 2007

The IMAGNA consortium is to study the usefulness of therapeutic tumour vaccination by magnetofection technology in a clinical study in cats with fibrosarcoma.

Magnetofection is a novel method for cell transfection. The proprietary technology, which has been developed by members of the IMAGNA project, is based on gene vectors associated with super paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. The resulting molecular complexes are then transported into cells supported by an appropriate magnetic field. Nearly 100% of the cells in the specified location receive a significant vector dose, resulting in high transfection rates and up to several thousand-fold increased transgene expression levels.

The technology necessitates extremely low vector doses and is accomplished in very short time, ie a few minutes, making it a valuable tool for gene therapy. The technology, which was developed with funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, is available commercially.

Standard therapy for cat fibrosarcoma is surgical removal. However, the tumour recurs in 75% of the patients within one year. The IMAGNA team has used magnetofection to guide cytokine genes directly into the tumour prior to surgical excision. The idea was that the cytokine expression within the tumour mass might activate the immune system against the tumour so that tumour cells missed by the surgical procedure would be killed.

Preliminary results indicate that anti cancer immune therapy with Magnetofection reduces the relapse of cat fibrosarcoma from 75% to nearly 40%. The additional studies are intended to confirm and extend the promising preliminary results and to take initial steps towards a future drug approval, firstly for veterinary medicine.

IMAGNA (immuno gene therapy with magnetic nanoparticles) was founded by members of the Institute of Experimental Oncology Klinikum rechts der Isar (Technical University, Munich), the Clinic of Small Animal Medicine of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (Munich), Bayer Schering Pharma AG (Berlin), chemicell GmbH (Berlin), and PlasmidFactory GmbH & Co. KG (Bielefeld). The consortium is supported by a grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

The partners contribute to the project with their different competences in the field of veterinary medicine, therapeutic anticancer vaccination, DNA production, gene transfer and targeting, pharmaceutical manufacturing and regulation.

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