Designing a Genetic Circuit to Keep IL-12 Inside Tumors
Scientists at Strand have developed a genetic circuit that instructs mRNA to produce an inflammatory protein, IL-12, only when it detects the tumor microenvironment. This circuit is designed to self-destruct if the mRNA goes anywhere other than its intended target, keeping the protein inside the tumor.
Initial Target and Future Plans
Strand is targeting easy-to-reach tumors, such as melanoma and breast cancer, to prove the efficacy and safety of their approach. In the future, they envision being able to use programmed mRNA to treat tumors in more remote locations by selectively activating in specific cells and tissues.
Injecting the mRNA at the Tumor Site
In the initial trials, doctors will be injecting the mRNA directly into the tumors to observe its localized effect. Even if the mRNA goes outside the tumor, it is likely that its effect will still be restricted to the tumor, providing a potential benefit to the treatment approach.
Monitoring IL-12 Levels
IL-12 levels can be measured from the blood, and Strand plans to monitor various organs for the protein to ensure it remains restricted to the tumor. Investigator will be checking for the presence of the protein outside the tumor in order to verify the effectiveness of the treatment.
Potential Risks and Benefits
As with computer circuits, genetic circuits can occasionally make mistakes. However, if the genetic circuit works as intended, it can have a significant impact on safety and efficacy. The success of Strand’s trial and other early attempts at genetic circuits will determine how well they work in a clinical setting.
The Future of Genetic Circuits
The potential of genetic circuits to create increasingly sophisticated and precise therapies is promising. This represents a new approach to creating therapies that match the complexity of biology, with the goal of creating therapies that can precisely target specific cells and tissues.
The development and testing of the genetic circuit by Strand and other researchers represents a new frontier in cancer treatment. With the ability to program mRNA to produce targeted therapies, there is potential to improve the safety and efficacy of cancer treatments, which could have a significant impact on the future of cancer care.
Scientists are preparing to test a new cancer treatment that uses mRNA to help the immune system target and destroy cancer cells. The treatment, known as mRNA-5671, is designed to activate a patient’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells that produce the protein known as Wilms’ tumor 1 (WT1). The upcoming clinical trial will assess the safety and effectiveness of this innovative approach, with the hope that it could provide a promising new option for cancer patients in the future.