Research investigates cellular reprogramming against breast cancer – Dourados Agora


Brazil Agency – EBC

Brazil Agency – Rio de Janeiro

Laboratory tests carried out by researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) indicated the possibility of curbing the growth of breast cancer by altering the profile of a type of defense cell. The research went through three experiments in the laboratory, but it is just the starting point for the evaluation of a possible therapy with this approach.

The cells researched in the study were macrophages, which are part of the body’s defenses. There are two types of these cells, the M1 and the M2, and the first type is more associated with tumor expansion, while the second type is associated with containment. About half of the mass of malignant tumors in the breast is made up of macrophages, and the research evaluated what would happen if the M1 type were changed to M2.

For this alteration to take place, iron oxide nanoparticles were used, produced in the laboratory through a partnership between Fiocruz Minas and the Physics Department of the Federal University of Pernambuco. Camila Sales Nascimento, a postdoctoral student in the Cellular and Molecular Immunology group at Fiocruz Minas, was in charge of the project and explains that the proposal is that, in contact with the compound, the M1 macrophages will transform into M2, reinforcing the control of the expansion of the cancer.

“The idea was to transform M2 into M1, through local treatment, performed directly on the tumor, which allowed greater control in relation to systemic interventions”, she explained to Agência Fiocruz de Notícias.

Tests were carried out in vitro with human cells in two and three dimensions, with positive results, and also laboratory experiments with mice. In this case, tumor cells and nanoparticles were injected into a group of animals, leaving them under observation for 21 days, in order to compare them with another group that did not receive the nanoparticles. Mice exposed to iron oxide had a tumor mass 50% smaller than the other group at the end of the period.

The results were published in the scientific journal International Journal of Pharmaceutics. The positive indications represent a proof of concept so that the research can move forward, but it is still necessary to evaluate a series of other issues, such as the physiological effects, the mechanisms of action, the side effects, the time of absorption of the drug, the biodistribution in the organization, among other aspects.

The article is in Portuguese

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