Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Tumor-Targeted Gene Therapy in Gastrointestinal  Cancer | Stem Cells and Development

Interleukin-12 (IL12) is a pleiotropic cytokine with promising prospects for cancer immunotherapy. Though IL12 gene-based therapy could overcome the fatal hurdle of severe systemic toxicity, targeted delivery and tumor-located expression of IL12 gene remain the challenging issues yet to be solved.

Photo-immunotherapy emerging as a novel and precise therapeutic strategy, which elaborately combines immune-activating agents with light-triggered photosensitizers for potentiated anticancer efficacy.

In this paper, published in Advanced Healthcare Materials, an engineered stem cell-based biotherapy platform (MB/IL12-MSCs) incorporating immune gene plasmid IL12 and photosensitizer methylene blue (MB) was developed to realize tumor-homing delivery of therapeutic agents and photo-immunotherapy efficacy enhancement.

The biotherapy platform retained tumor-tropic migration and penetration functions, which improved the intratumoral distribution of therapeutic agents, thereby promoting photodynamic effects and reinforcing immune responses. Importantly, MB/IL12-MSCs restricted the expression and distribution of IL12 at tumor site, which minimized potential toxicity while eliciting sufficient anticancer immunity.

In noteworthy, activation of immunity induced by MB/IL12-MSCs established long-term systemic immunologic memory to prevent tumor relapse. The MB/IL12-MSCs outperform their monotherapy counterparts in breast tumor models, and the growth of tumor significantly arrested as well as re-challenging abscopal tumor growth slowdown.

Collectively, this work reveals that MSCs-based strategy might advance more efficient, durable, and safer cancer photo-immunotherapy.

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