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Systemic RALA/iNOS Nanoparticles: A Potent Gene Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer Coupled as a Biomarker of Treatment.

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posted on 2022-04-04, 10:29 authored by John W McBride, Joanne McCaffrey, Ahlam A. Ali, Nicholas J. Dunne, Vicky L. Kett, Jonathan A. Coulter, Tracy RobsonTracy Robson, Helen O. McCarthy

This study aimed to determine the therapeutic benefit of a nanoparticular formulation for the delivery of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) gene therapy in a model of breast cancer metastasis. Nanoparticles comprising a cationic peptide vector, RALA, and plasmid DNA were formulated and characterized using a range of physiochemical analyses. Nanoparticles complexed using iNOS plasmids and RALA approximated 60 nm in diameter with a charge of 25 mV. A vector neutralization assay, performed to determine the immunogenicity of nanoparticles in immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice, revealed that no vector neutralization was evident. Nanoparticles harboring iNOS plasmids (constitutively active cytomegalovirus [CMV]-driven or transcriptionally regulated human osteocalcin [hOC]-driven) evoked iNOS protein expression and nitrite accumulation and impaired clonogenicity in the highly aggressive MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer model. Micrometastases of MDA-MB-231-luc-D3H1 cells were established in female BALB/c SCID mice by intracardiac delivery. Nanoparticulate RALA/CMV-iNOS or RALA/hOC-iNOS increased median survival in mice bearing micrometastases by 27% compared with controls and also provoked elevated blood nitrite levels. Additionally, iNOS gene therapy sensitized MDA-MB-231-luc-D3H1 tumors to docetaxel treatment. Studies demonstrated that systemically delivered RALA-iNOS nanoparticles have therapeutic potential for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Furthermore, detection of nitrite levels in the blood serves as a reliable biomarker of treatment.


This work was supported by grants from Cancer Research UK (C17372/A14271 and C17372/ A18475).



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McCrudden CM, McBride JW, McCaffrey J, Ali AA, Dunne NJ, Kett VL, Coulter JA, Robson T, McCarthy HO. Systemic RALA/iNOS Nanoparticles: A Potent Gene Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer Coupled as a Biomarker of Treatment. Molecular therapy. Nucleic acids. 2017;6:249-258. Epub 2016 Dec 31.

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  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences