Engineering cells to attack tumors

Engineering T-cells with nucleic acids

In this project we engineer immune cells with nanoparticles containing DNA to recognize and attack tumor cells. Three project partners have formed a complementary consortium to address this objective. Nanocell Therapeutics has expertise in therapeutic DNA development and specific targeting of the appropriate type of immune cell  while Nanovation Therapeutics has proprietary nanoparticles. UMC Utrecht is responsible for integration of the three components and testing he functionality.

The concept of making immune cells to attack tumor cells is already validated. However the current procedure, in which cells are isolated form the patient, trained outside the body and reinfused, is time consuming (several weeks) and costly (several hundred thousands of euro). Still this procedure is used as it has shown remarkably strong antitumor effects.

We aim to train the immune cells inside the body of the patient, which is fast and much cheaper. For this we make nanoparticles that can bind to and be taken up by the immune cells after which the immune cells are engineered to recognize the tumor cells and start the attack.

At the end of this project we should have an optimized nanoparticle that can bind and deliver its payload successfully in the blood stream and transform immune cells into antitumor cells.

In this project new lipid nanoparticles carrying DNA are designed and manufactured. These nanoparticles are targeted to immune cells. After delivery of the DNA payload, the cells can recognize and attack tumor cells.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
3 - 4
Time period
12 months
UMC Utrecht