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Published: 2019-12-10 11:33 | Updated: 2019-12-10 14:59

New nano medicines for delivery of mRNA therapy in breast cancer and heart failure

KI researcher Samir El Andaloussi, at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, is one of 11 partners in the international project EXPERT that has been awarded a total of EUR 14.9 million from the EU Horizon 2020. The project is working to find efficient ways to deliver protein coding mRNA by using various nanoparticles for the treatment of breast cancer and myocardial infarction, which are two of the most pressing health challenges in European society today.

Photo of Samir EL Andaloussi, Department of Laboratory Medicine
Samir EL Andaloussi, Department of Laboratory Medicine

Hi Samir. What is the research about in the EXPERT-project?

It is about developing mRNA therapy for the treatment of breast cancer. Much of it involves testing different methods to improve delivery of mRNA to cells in vitro and in vivo. These methods are fundamentally based either on lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), biological nanoparticles called exosomes, or cell penetrating peptides (CPPs). In addition to this, we intend to analyse what these nanoparticles bind to in biological fluids in order to better understand what drives uptake in tissue and cells.

What is your and KI:s part in the project?

We will develop new CPPs to achieve improved delivery of therapeutic mRNAs and optimise formulations that enable systemic administration in different preclinical models. Part of the work will also consist of understanding how nanoparticle surfaces bind to host factors in blood and how this can affect the uptake of nanoparticles.

What happens now, what is the next step?

We will now see how well these delivery methods work side by side in cell culture and animal models. The hope is then to be able to deliver an mRNA cocktail with one of the aforementioned vectors for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer. In parallel, these vectors will also be evaluated for delivery of VEGF mRNA in the treatment of myocardial infarction.