Nano-technology based carriers for nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates delivery as sensitisers of γδ T cells for anticancer immunotherapy

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Nitrogen containing bisphosphonates (N-BPs) including zoledronate (ZOL) and alendronate (ALD) inhibit farnesyl diphosphate synthase, and have been shown to have a cytotoxic affect against cancer cells as a monotherapy and to also sensitise tumour cells to destruction by γδ T cells. γδ T cells are a subset of human T lymphocytes and have a diverse range of roles in the immune system including the recognition and destruction of cancer cells. This property of γδ T cells can be harnessed for use in cancer immunotherapy through in vivo expansion or the adoptive transfer of ex vivo activated γδ T cells. The use of N-BPs with γδ T cells has been shown to have a synergistic effect in in vitro, animal and clinical studies. N-BPs have limited in vivo activity due to rapid clearance from the circulation. By encapsulating N-BPs in liposomes (L) it is possible to increase the levels of N-BPs at non-osseous tumour sites. L-ZOL and L-ALD have been shown to have different toxicological profiles than free ZOL or ALD. Both L-ALD and L-ZOL led to increased spleen weight, leucocytosis, neutrophilia and lymphocytopenia in mice after intravenous injection. L-ALD was shown to be better tolerated than L-ZOL in murine studies. Biodistribution studies have been performed in order to better understand the interaction of N-BPs and γδ T cells in vivo. Additionally, in vivo therapy studies have shown that mice treated with both L-ALD and γδ T cells had a significant reduction in tumour growth compared to mice treated with L-ALD or γδ T cells alone. The use of ligand-targeted liposomes may further increase the efficacy of this combinatory immunotherapy. Liposomes targeting the αvβ6 integrin receptor using the peptide A20FMDV2 had a greater ability than untargeted liposomes in sensitising cancer cells to destruction by γδ T cells in αvβ6 positive cancer cell lines.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date8 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2017


  • Liposomes
  • gamma delta T cells
  • immunotherapy
  • biphosphonate
  • zoledronic acid
  • alendronic acid


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