Tobacco virus delivers new chemo drug with better results


Researchers at Case Western University in Cleveland and MIT have combined forces around a new nanoparticle from a plant virus that shrunk tumors in vivo by delivering an unapproved chemo drug, outpacing the more common cisplatin in triple-negative breast cancer.

The platinum-based candidate phenanthriplatin is a chemically altered version of cisplatin, which, according to a university release, is reserved for testicular cancer. Cisplatin normally cross-links with DNA to block transcription and, thus, prevents cell proliferation--but the new compound binds to a single site to make this happen. Alone, though, the chemotherapy, even though it can be 40 times more potent, didn’t perform much better than the original.

But using the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), which is a long and thin nanoparticle used to deliver other drugs as well because of its ability to infiltrate tumor cells. The virus delivers the phenanthriplatin by carrying it into the lysosomal compartments of the cancer cells without affecting healthy cells along the way.

The combined effect of the virus and the cancer drug led to a better performance over cisplatin.

“We may have found the perfect carrier for this particular drug candidate,” Case Western assistant professor Nicole Steinmetz said.

- here's the release