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A step forward for the design of multifunctional protein nanomaterials for cancer therapies

Researchers of NANBIOSIS Unit 1 and NANBIOSIS Unit 18, led by Prof Antoni Villaverde have published the article at the prestigious scintific magazine titled Collaborative membrane activity and receptor-dependent tumor cell targeting for precise nanoparticle delivery in CXCR4+ colorectal cancer

The researchers have shown that the combination of cell-penetrating and tumor cell-targeting peptides dramatically enhances precise tumor accumulation of protein-only nanoparticles intended for selective drug delivery, in mouse models of human colorectal cancer. This fact is a step forward for the rational design of multifunctional protein nanomaterials for improved cancer therapies.

Protein production has been partially performed by the  ICTS NANBIOSIS U1, Protein Production Platform and the nanoparticle size analysis by the U6  of NANBIOSIS Biomaterial Processing and Nanostructuring Unit. Biodistribution studies were performed by the U18 of the ICTS NANBIOSIS, Nanotoxicology Unit.

Article of reference:

Rita Sala, LauraSánchez-García, Naroa Serna, María Virtudes Céspedes, Isolda Casanova, Mònica Roldán, Alejandro Sánchez Chardig, Ugutz Unzueta, Esther Vázquez, Ramón Mangues, Antonio Villaverde. Collaborative membrane activity and receptor-dependent tumor cell targeting for precise nanoparticle delivery in CXCR4+ colorectal cancer. Acta Biomaterialia, 99, Pages 426-432. 2019,

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Why the poor biodistribution so far reached by tumor-targeted medicines?

Cell-selective targeting is expected to enhance effectiveness and minimize side effects of cytotoxic agents. Functionalization of drugs or drug nanoconjugates with specific cell ligands allows receptor-mediated selective cell delivery. However, it is unclear whether the incorporation of an efficient ligand into a drug vehicle is sufficient to ensure proper biodistribution upon systemic administration, and also at which extent biophysical properties of the vehicle may contribute to the accumulation in target tissues during active targeting. To approach this issue, structural robustness of self-assembling, protein-only nanoparticles targeted to the tumoral marker CXCR4 is compromised by reducing the number of histidine residues (from six to five) in a histidine-based architectonic tag. Thus, the structure of the resulting nanoparticles, but not of building blocks, is weakened. Upon intravenous injection in animal models of human CXCR4+ colorectal cancer, the administered material loses the ability to accumulate in tumor tissue, where it is only transiently found. It instead deposits in kidney and liver. Therefore, precise cell-targeted delivery requires not only the incorporation of a proper ligand that promotes receptor-mediated internalization, but also, unexpectedly, its maintenance of a stable multimeric nanostructure that ensures high ligand exposure and long residence time in tumor tissue.

Protein production has been partially performed by the  ICTS NANBIOSIS U1, Protein Production Platform and the nanoparticle size analysis by the U6  of NANBIOSIS Biomaterial Processing and Nanostructuring Unit. Biodistribution studies were performed by the U18 of the ICTS NANBIOSIS, Nanotoxicology Unit.

The concept presented by the authors of the present research might represent a convincing explanation of the poor biodistribution so far reached by tumor-targeted medicines, including antibody-drug conjugates. In addition to this, they offer a potential developmental roadmap for the improvement of these drugs, of high intrinsic therapeutic potential, to reach satisfactory efficiencies in the clinical context.

Hèctor López-Laguna, Rita Sala, Julieta M. Sánchez, Patricia Álamo, Ugutz Unzueta, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Naroa Serna, Laura Sánchez-García, Eric Voltà-Durán, Ramón Mangues, Antonio Villaverde and Esther Vázquez. Nanostructure Empowers Active Tumor Targeting in Ligand-Based Molecular Delivery. Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 2019.

DOI: 10.1002/ppsc.201900304

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Artificial inclusion bodies for controlled drug release

Researchers from NANBIOSIS-CIBER-BBN have developed a new type of protein biomaterial that allows a continuous release over time of therapeutic proteins when administered subcutaneously in laboratory animals.

These results are the result of the stable scientific collaboration between the researchers of NANBIOSIS Units 1 Protein Production Platform (PPP)and 18 Nanotoxicology Unit, led by Toni Villaverde and Ramón Mangues at the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (IBB-UAB) and the Institut About the Hospital de Sant Pau and has had the participation of the Institute of Biological and Technological Research of the National University of Córdoba-CONICET, in Argentina

 “These structures, of a few micrometers in diameter, contain functional proteins that are released in a manner similar to the release of human hormones in the endocrine system,” says Antonio Villaverde. Ramón Mangues explains that “the new biomaterial mimics a common bacterial product in biotechnological processes called ‘inclusion bodies’, of pharmacological interest, which in this artificial version offers a wide range of therapeutic possibilities in the field of oncology and in any other field clinic that requires sustained release over time.” Researchers have used common enzymes in biotechnology as a model and a nanostructured bacterial toxin that targets metastatic cells of human colorectal cancer, which has been tested in animal models. “In this way we have managed to generate both immobilized catalysts and a new long-acting anti-tumor drug,” said the researchers responsible for the research.

The developed artificial protein granules, which had previously been proposed as ‘nanopills’ (tablets of therapeutic material on a nanoscopic scale), mimic bacterial inclusion bodies and offer enormous clinical potential in the field of vaccinology and as release systems Drug controlled.

“We have seen that natural inclusion bodies, administered as medicines, can generate unwanted immune responses due to the inevitable contamination with bacterial materials,” the researchers comment. However, in the new work, the development of artificial inclusion bodies with secretion capacity “avoids many of the regulatory problems associated with the potential development of bacterial nanopills, and offers a cross platform for obtaining functional components in cosmetics and in clinic” they add.

This work points to artificial inclusion bodies as a new exploitable category of biomaterials for biotechnological applications with a more simple manufacturing and clinical applications.

Reference article:
Julieta M. Sánchez, Hèctor López ‐ Laguna, Patricia Álamo, Naroa Serna, Alejandro Sánchez ‐ Chardi, Verónica Nolan, Olivia Cano ‐ Garrido, Isolda Casanova, Ugutz Unzueta, Esther Vazquez, Ramon Mangues, Antonio Villaverde Artificial Inclusion Bodies for Clinical Development

https: //doi.org/10.1002/advs.201902420

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A new method simple and efficient for the preparation of Oligonucleotide-protein conjugates

Oligonucleotide-protein conjugates have important applications in biomedicine. Four units of NANBIOSIS have collaborated to come across with more simple and efficient methods for the preparation of these conjugates.

In the publication of the research results, a new method is described in which a bifunctional linker is attached to thiol-oligonucleotide to generate a reactive intermediate that is used to link to the protein. Having similar conjugation efficacy compared with the classical method in which the bifunctional linker is attached first to the protein, this new approach produces significantly more active conjugates with higher batch to batch reproducibility. In a second approach, direct conjugation is proposed using oligonucleotides carrying carboxyl groups. These methodologies have been applied to prepare nanoconjugates of an engineered nanoparticle protein carrying a T22 peptide with affinity for the CXCR4 chemokine receptor and oligomers of the antiproliferative nucleotide 2′-deoxy-5-fluorouridine in a very efficient way. The protocols have potential uses for the functionalization of proteins, amino-containing polymers or amino-lipids in order to produce complex therapeutic nucleic acid delivery systems.

Protein production and DLS have been partially performed by the NANBIOSIS Units of CIBER-BBN  U1 Protein Production Platform (PPP) at IBB-UAB  and  U6 Biomaterial Processing and Nanostructuring Unit of CIBER-BBN and ICMAB-CSIC. Also, NANBIOSIS U18 of Nanotoxicology at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau has been used and the team of researcher counted with the NANBIOSIS expertise of U29 Oligonucleotide Synthesis Platform (OSP) at IQAC-CSIC

Article of reference:

Avino, Anna; Unzueta, Ugutz; Cespedes, Maria Virtudes; Casanova, Isolda; Vazquez, Esther; Villaverde, Antonio; Mangues, Ramon; Eritja, Ramon. Efficient bioactive oligonucleotide-protein conjugation for cell-targeted cancer therapy. CHEMISTRYOPEN 8, 3 (382-387), 2019

https://doi.org/10.1002/open.201900038
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A CXCR4-targeted nanocarrier achieves highly selective tumor uptake in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma mouse models

Researchers of NANBIOSIS Unit 1 and NANBIOSIS Unit 18,  led by Ramón Mangues, have published the article titled CXCR4-targeted nanocarrier achieves highly selective tumor uptake in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma mouse models .

One-third of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients are refractory to initial treatment or relapse after rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone chemotherapy. In these patients, CXCR4 overexpression (CXCR4+) associates with lower overall and disease-free survival. Nanomedicine pursues active targeting to selectively deliver antitumor agents to cancer cells, a novel approach that promises to revolutionize therapy by dramatically increasing drug concentration in target tumor cells. In the study carried out at NANBIOSIS ICTS the resarchers intravenously administered a liganded protein nanocarrier (T22-GFP-H6) targeting CXCR4+ lymphoma cells in mouse models to assess its selectivity as a nanocarrier, by measuring its tissue biodistribution in cancer and normal cells. No previous protein-based nanocarrier has been described to specifically target lymphoma cells. T22-GFP-H6 achieved a highly selective tumor uptake in a CXCR4+ lymphoma subcutaneous model, as detected by fluorescent emission. We demonstrated that tumor uptake was CXCR4- dependent because pretreatment with AMD3100, a CXCR4 antagonist, significantly reduced tumor uptake. Moreover, in contrast to CXCR4+ subcutaneous models, CXCR4- tumors did not accumulate the nanocarrier. Most importantly, after intravenous injection in a disseminated model, the nanocarrier accumulated and internalized in all clinically relevant organs affected by lymphoma cells, with negligible distribution to unaffected tissues. Finally, the researchers obtained antitumor effect without toxicity in a CXCR4+ lymphoma model by T22-DITOX-H6 administration, a nanoparticle incorporating a toxin with the same structure as the nanocarrier. Hence, the use of T22-GFP-H6 nanocarrier could be a good strategy to load and deliver drugs or toxins to treat specifically CXCR4-mediated refractory or relapsed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma without systemic toxicity.

The bioluminescent follow-up of cancer cells and nanoparticle biodistribution and toxicity studies has been performed in the ICTS NANBIOSIS, using its  unit 18 of Nanotechnology of CIBER-BBN and Hospital Sant Pau The Protein production has been partially performed by the Protein Production Platform (PPP) Unit 1 of ICTS NANBIOSIS of CIBER-BBN and IBB-UAB.

Article of reference:

Aïda Falgàs, Victor Pallarès, Ugutz Unzueta, María Virtudes Céspedes, Irene Arroyo-Solera, María José Moreno, Alberto Gallardo, María Antonia Mangues, Jorge Sierra, Antonio Villaverde, Esther Vázquez, Ramon Mangues, and Isolda Casanova.  A CXCR4-targeted nanocarrier achieves highly selective tumor uptake in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma mouse models. Haematologica 2019

doi:10.3324/haematol.2018.211490

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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment with protein nanoparticles

A study result of collaboration between researchers of two NANBIOSIS units managed to produce a potent antitumor effect in an animal model with non-Hodgkin lymphoma

A non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, NHL is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system.
Lymphoma. NHL is a term that’s used for many different types of lymphoma that share some characteristics.  The most prevalent type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (LDCGB). Although there are treatments for this pathology, there are non-responders.

This nanoparticle can be developed as a nanopharmaceutical, in order to introduce a new treatment, which could be used in 40 percent of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who do not respond to current therapy, and avoiding the adverse effects associated with conventional treatment.

The research conducted by the CIBER-BBN at the Hospital de Sant Pau, led by Ramón Mangues (Nanbiosis U18 Nanotoxicology Unit) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, led by Antoni Villaverde Nanbiosis U1 Protein Production Platform (PPP) has demonstrated the high selectivity of a protein-based nanomedicine and created by the researchers themselves, for the targeted delivery of a toxin in the tumor cells to induce their selective death. The objective is that these nanoparticles can be developed as a nanopharmaceutical, which could be used in 40 percent of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who do not respond to current therapy, avoiding the adverse effects associated with conventional treatment

This selective effect of the nanopharmaceutical is due to the specific interaction between a targeting peptide that contains the protein nanoparticle that carries the toxin and the CXCR4 cell receptor that is highly overexpressed in lymphoma cells. This is the first time that the uptake of protein nanoparticles in different organs of a hematological neoplasm is quantified.

This observation has shown that 86 percent of the administered dose accumulates in cancer cells, a substantial improvement compared to other non-protein nanoparticles or other drug targeting systems such as drug-antibody conjugates, which only reach 1 percent of the dose in the tumor.

As Ramón Mangues, Scientific Director of Nanbiosis U18 Nanotoxicology Unit, explains, “the new protein nanoparticle contains a ligand that identifies a CXCR4 receptor on the surface of cancer cells in which it enters selectively, reaching a very high uptake of the tumor and very low in the rest of the body, which greatly exceeds the tumor uptake of drugs used for this type of lymphoma.”

The bioluminescent follow-up of cancer cells and nanoparticle biodistribution and toxicity studies has been performed in the ICTS NANBIOSIS Nanotoxicology Unit Protein production has been partially performed by the ICTS “NANBIOSIS”, more specifically by the Unit of Protein Production Platform.

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NANBIOSIS U1 PPP will take a critical role in one of the projects selected by La Marató TV3 to fight against cancer

Selectively humanized nanomedicines aimed at killing CXCR4 + tumor cells for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia”  is one of the Project awarded by La Marató TV3 Foundation and is participated by Dr. Antonio Villaverde, Estrategic of NANBIOSIS U1 Protein Production Platform (PPP)

The main objective of the project is the design and validation of humanized protein nanoparticles for the targeted delivery of antitumoral drugs for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. This will be done by the generation of protein-based nanoconjugates that will be targeted to the cytokine receptor CXCR4, overexpressed in this human neoplasia. The drugs will consist in a protein part, that will ofer nanoscale size, stability and CXCR4-targeting, and a small molecular weight chemical that will perform the cytotoxic effect over tumoral cells. The Protein Production Platform (U1 of NANBIOSIS), will have a critical role in the design and production of the protein amounts required for the in vivo experiments, that will be performed at the Institut de Recerca of Sant Pau Hospital.

In the 2018 La Marató TV3 edition, dedicated to cancer, 192 projects were presented, which were evaluated by 149 international scientists specialized in this field based on their quality, methodology and relevance. The management of the evaluation was carried out by the Health and Quality Assessment Agency of Catalonia, from the Department of Health. In accordance with the proposal of the Scientific Advisory Commission of the La Marató de TV3 Foundation, the Board agreed to distribute 13,149,870.76€ among the 43 scientific research projects.

The Project “Selectively humanized nanomedicines aimed at killing CXCR4 + tumor cells for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia“. Will be developed by the research groups led by:

  • Dr. Jordi Sierra GilHospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau – IRHSCSP Institut de Recerca Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
  • Dr. Antonio Villaverde CorralesFacultat de Medicina – UAB Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Dra. Lourdes Farré Vallvé Institut Català d’Oncologia – IDIBELL Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge

Financing: 399.178,75 €

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Targeting antitumoral proteins to breast cancer by local administration of functional inclusion bodies

Three units of NANBIOSIS have collaborated in obtaining the research results published in the article “Targeting Antitumoral Proteins to Breast Cancer by Local Administration of Functional Inclusion Bodies” published by Advanced Science

Protein production and DLS have been partially performed by the Unit 1 of ICTS NANBIOSIS Protein Production Platform (PPP) and the Unit 6 NANBIOBIS Biomaterial Processing and Nanostructuring Unit. Biodistribution and immunohistochemistry assays were performed at NANBIOSIS U20 In Vivo Experimental Platform/FVPR

Two structurally and functionally unrelated proteins, namely Omomyc and p31, are engineered as CD44‐targeted inclusion bodies produced in recombinant bacteria. In this unusual particulate form, both types of protein materials selectively penetrate and kill CD44+ tumor cells in culture, and upon local administration, promote destruction of tumoral tissue in orthotropic mouse models of human breast cancer. These findings support the concept of bacterial inclusion bodies as versatile protein materials suitable for application in chronic diseases that, like cancer, can benefit from a local slow release of therapeutic proteins.

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The Autonomous University of Barcelona, in the elite of the 300 best universities in the world

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), known as Shanghai Ranking, which was made public on August 15, places the Autonomous University of Barcelona among the elite of the 300 best universities in the world.

This indicator organizes up to 20,000 university centers worldwide,
based on transparent methodology and objective third-party data. ARWU is regarded as one of the three most influential and widely observed university rankings

The Autonomous University of Barcelona houses two of NANBIOSIS Units:

U1 Protein Production Platform (PPP), led by Toni Villaverde, Neus Ferrer and Paolo Saccardo, offer an “tailored” service for the design, production and purification of recombinant proteins using both prokaryotic and eukaryotic expression systems

U25 NMR: Biomedical Applications I, led by Carles Arús and Ana Paula Candiota, with a recognized research track record in the use of NMR as a tool for biomedical applications, and more especifically to identify biomarkers of different pathologies, the main objective of this unit is the acquisition, processing and/or interpretation of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance data

Here you can check the results of the University of Zaragoza in this year’s Shanghai Ranking:
http://www.shanghairanking.com/World-University-Rankings/Autonomous-University-of-Barcelona.html



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The first Nanocomposite that slows the spread of colon cancer

The creation of a nanodrug capable of blocking the spread of the disease, which is known as metastasis, has been highlighted by Guia Medica, as a heavy blow struck against to colon cancer, the malignant tumor with the highest incidence in our country, a process that affects 40% of the million cases of this type of cancer that are diagnosed every year in the world, and that represents the main cause of death.

The research, jointly carried out by scientists from the IIB Sant Pau, Sant Pau Hospital, the UAB, CSIC and CIBER-BBN, led by Esther Vázquez and Antonio Villaverde, Strategy Director of NANBIOSIS U1. Protein Production Platform (PPP) in the IBB-UAB and Ramon Mangues, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U18. Nanotoxicology Unit in the Sant Pau Hospital, were published in the scientific journal EMBO Molecular Medicine ando pen a new way to prevent metastasis in colorectal cancer in humans, using a nanomedicine that selectively eliminates metastatic stem cells.

NANBIOSIS Unit 18 of Nanotoxicology has been involved in the study of the biodistribution and the antimetastatic effect and on normal organs of the nanoconjugate administered and the unit and Unit 1 PPP, has contributed to the production of the protein part of the nanoconjugate.

The new drug works like a drone that identifies a receptor (CXCR4) in metastatic stem cells. Once localized, it administers the drug and destroys it, blocking the metastasis, according to research sources. By acting only on metastatic tumor cells, the new nanodrug avoids the general toxicity associated with the usual treatments against cancer and preserves healthy cells. Although up to now it has been successfully tested in animals suffering from colorectal cancer, the researchers who have carried out the trial believe that it could be used in 20 types of additional tumors, which also express CXCR4, as in prostate, breast, ovarian and other tumors.

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