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Archive - Jun 7, 2017

Potential Therapeutic Use of Exosomes in Pancreatic Cancer Reported in Nature; Innovative Strategy Uses Engineered Exosomes Targeting Mutated KRAS Gene; MD Anderson Study Demonstrates That 'iExosomes' Shut Down Growth of Pancreatic Tumors in Mice

Genetic manipulation of exosomes, virus-sized particles released by all cells, may offer a new therapeutic approach to treating pancreatic cancer, according to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Findings from the study, led by Valerie LeBleu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology, and Sushrut Kamerkar, PhD, Assistant Student in the MD Anderson UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Cancer Biology Program, were published online on June 7, 2017 in Nature. The article is titled Exosomes Facilitate Therapeutic Targeting of Oncogenic KRAS in Pancreatic Cancer.” Earlier MD Anderson investigations demonstrated exosomes as a factor in detecting pancreatic cancer, but these latest findings reveal genetically altered exosomes as a potentially novel approach for direct and specific targeting of mutated KRAS, the cancer gene commonly linked to pancreatic cancer. In the study, exosomes, which are generated by all cells and are naturally present in blood, were modified as "iExosomes," capable of delivering small RNA to specifically target mutant KRAS, resulting in disease suppression and increased overall survival in mouse models. The investigators utilized a targeting method called RNA interference (RNAi) which, when delivered via these natural nanoparticles or exosomes, zero in on mutant KRAS in pancreas cancer cells, impacting tumor burden and survival in multiple pancreas cancer models. The team showed that exosomes could serve as an efficient carrier of RNAi, given that these nano-sized vesicles easily travel through the body and enter cells, including cancer cells.