Cancer immune therapy using engineered 'tail-flipping' nanoliposomes targeting alternatively activated macrophages

PR Kuninty and K Binnemars-Postma and A Jarray and KP Pednekar and MA Heinrich and HJ Pijffers and H ten Hoopen and G Storm and P van Hoogevest and WK den Otter and J Prakash, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 13, 4548 (2022).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-32091-9

Alternatively-activated, M2-like tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) strongly contribute to tumor growth, invasiveness and metastasis. Technologies to disable the pro-tumorigenic function of these TAMs are of high interest to immunotherapy research. Here we show that by designing engineered nanoliposomes bio-mimicking peroxidated phospholipids that are recognised and internalised by scavenger receptors, TAMs can be targeted. Incorporation of phospholipids possessing a terminal carboxylate group at the sn-2 position into nanoliposome bilayers drives their uptake by M2 macrophages with high specificity. Molecular dynamics simulation of the lipid bilayer predicts flipping of the sn-2 tail towards the aqueous phase, while molecular docking data indicates interaction of the tail with Scavenger Receptor Class B type 1 (SR-B1). In vivo, the engineered nanoliposomes are distributed specifically to M2-like macrophages and, upon delivery of the STAT6 inhibitor (AS1517499), zoledronic acid or muramyl tripeptide, these cells promote reduction of the premetastatic niche and/or tumor growth. Altogether, we demonstrate the efficiency and versatility of our engineered "tail-flipping" nanoliposomes in a pre-clinical model, which paves the way to their development as cancer immunotherapeutics in humans.

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