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Research Highlight: MIRKIN

New therapy extends breast cancer survival rate, prevents reoccurrence

A new immunotherapy developed by researchers at Northwestern University dramatically extends the survival time of mice with triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat forms of breast cancer. In a new study, mice treated with the therapy, which comprises two immunity-boosting drugs housed inside a nanoparticle, experienced complete tumor remission for at least 100 days. All untreated mice died by day 30. None of the treated mice experienced adverse side effects or autoimmune responses.

The nanoparticle, called a spherical nucleic acid (SNA), is a globular form of DNA that can easily enter and stimulate immune cells. Chad A. Mirkin, who led the study and invented SNAs, credits the nanoparticle’s shape and structure for the immunotherapy’s success. “We have demonstrated that the overall structural presentation of a cancer vaccine or immunotherapeutic — not simply the active chemical components — can dramatically impact its potency,” Mirkin said. “This finding is opening doors in an emerging field we call ‘rational vaccinology’ and could lead to treatments for many different types of cancer.”

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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