A team of researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (Idibell) and the University of Iowa developed a new molecule capable of recognizing the tumor cells.
Specifically, it is a new aptamer, a type of nucleic acid molecule that adopts three-dimensional structures and is capable of specifically recognizing target molecules.
This new molecule, presented in the scientific journal Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids, could be used as a platform to deliver localized anticancer treatments and reduce unwanted side effects, Idibell explained in a statement on Tuesday.
The developed molecule recognizes the EphA2 receptor, highly expressed in a multitude of cancers such as sarcomas, breast cancer, melanoma or colorectal cancer, among others, and which, on the other hand, is very little expressed in healthy cells, which makes it an ideal candidate as a target for targeted therapy.
“Aptamers, unlike antibodies or other localized drug delivery platforms, can be linked to any type of therapy, be it chemotherapy or RNA cancer treatments. In addition, they can be produced on a large scale and without batch-to-batch variability.”pointed out the head of the Idibell Sarcoma research group and one of the project leaders, Òscar Martínez.
In addition, apart from acting as a targeted drug delivery platform, the research team found that the aptamer itself already had an antitumor effect.
The target receptor to which the new molecule binds plays a very important role in the aggressiveness of tumors, and the researchers found that the very binding of the aptamer reduced the metastatic capacity of cells in culture.
“We could say that the aptamer alone already has a preventive effect, it slows down the evolution of cancer. It alone could help us turn cancer into a chronic disease, and at the same time, conjugated with anti-cancer drugs, it could be even more powerful.”Martinez added.
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