Nebraska-led project examines milk as possible cancer fighter

Janos Zempleni, professor of nutrition and health sciences, and colleagues are following the path of using milk to deliver cancer fighters to the brain. The project recently received a $ 630.00 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. Credit: University Communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

In health care, there is probably no word that sends a colder message than “cancer.” Brain cancer, for example, proves resistance particularly to current treatment. Only 5% of patients with this condition live more than three years and the median life expectancy is 10 to 14 months.

But a new research project by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists offers the potential for success. In a project sponsored by the federal government, Janos Zempleni, a professor with the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, and Husker colleagues are following a unique approach to utilization. milk just as a vehicle delivers suicide drugs to the brain.

The meaning is not as interesting as it would sound – it builds on recent science. Preliminary research in recent years has shown that it is possible to regulate the function of the body’s immune system to reduce the growth of tissues, including. cancer. Scientists have achieved this result by directing a type of molecule known as siRNAs to target tissue. Molecular signaling by siRNAs inhibits molecular function that allows new tissue growth.

But reverting that original study to a better medical treatment went awry. To date, scientists have not been able to find an effective way to deliver organic matter on a regular basis to a targeted area and in sufficient quantities.

Milk, he explained, offers a good opportunity to tackle the problem. People are taking siRNAs through food, recent research shows. And milk, Zempleni discovered, is known for its potency, once absorbed, to help cells accumulate in the brain.

In their work, Husker researchers will develop a milk-focused strategy for improved organic delivery. Specifically, the function will use the siRNA molecules that transport milk to block the activation of the gene known as IDH1, whose mutations cause brain tumors. The study also offers hope in treating abnormalities in the brain that affect young children, said Zempleni, Professor Willa Cather, professor of nutrition and director of the Nebraska Center for Obesity Prevention.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided $ 630,000 to support the project. Zempleni will lead the study, in collaboration with Forrest Kievit, assistant professor of biochemistry, and Jiantao Guo, assistant professor of chemistry. The grant is provided by the USDA National Food and Agriculture Organization.

The average resistance of this science is “enormous. It is not yet recognized,” said Zempleni, a fellow American for the Advancement of Science and the winner of the Center for Agricultural and Natural Resources’ 2015 Omtvedt Innovation . Grant

Zempleni and his colleagues will use biochemistry and chemicals to take exosomes, natural nanoparticle in milk, along with therapeutic products including siRNAs. Load the material on the cow’s milk exosomes will begin to need to repair the original cow, a difficult task. So, instead, the researchers would mutate MAC-T cells (similar molecular mechanisms to cow’s milk cells) in the laboratory to produce exosomes, and then lead them to brain tumors. in mice.

The researchers aim to develop strategies to achieve two goals: Getting siRNAs more efficiently and more frequently leads to tumors that siRNAs accumulate too much to reduce tumor growth.

If this technology is proven to work, large scale production of exosomes will be required to meet the actual patient needs. Laboratory culture can give only a small amount of exosomes. Cows, on the other hand, can produce large amounts of their milk.

Therefore, the Husker researchers are determined, in the long run, to take a big step if their current research leads to the goal of genetically engineered: They will seek the development of a cow modified by genetics.

Such a cow, Zempleni said, would hide “milk exosomes that allow the delivery of most RNA drugs to brain pain in cancer patients. “

The pharmaceutical industry has already begun to adopt this general concept. It is also known as biopharming, meaning the use of animals to provide treatment. The drug Atryn, used to prevent blood clots in patients with another severe diseasethey are derived from the milk of pilgrims.

“With our technology, you can use these milk exosomes, combine the appropriate formulas and provide treatment for people suffering from these complex diseases,” Zempleni said. “I think this could be a big game change if we get a funding agency to take the risk of breeding these animals. This is a difficult task. With MAC-T cells, it is much easier, but taking this to animals, goats. or a cow, it’s a complicated process. “

Husker’s research pioneered the discovery of the importance of milk as a possible biological means. In 2014, Scott Baier – a doctoral candidate at the Zempleni Lab – suggested starting a research project on the subject, which ended in Food Newspaper paper which he, Zempleni and other Husker colleagues wrote together. The story has since been brought up in education nearly 300 times. Baier earned his doctorate in nutrition from Nebraska in 2015 and is now the chief medical officer at Vaniam Group, a company focused on treatment options. cancer in Dallas.

Zempleni’s path to biological and food science research began at a young age in his native Germany.

“I love biology but at this age, I prefer fishing — I’ve been very good at all of these original types of fish from Germany,” he says.

In the coming years, his interest expanded, gradually changing “from fish to biology to science.”

“I was between biology or nutrition science,” he said. “I think in the past I made good choices with nutrition science. This is a very important process, and it allows me to delve deeper into biology and biology. So, I think I got the best of both. two worlds. ”

Exosomes can improve the delivery of cancer drugs to tumors

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