Skip to main content
Publications of the Week

Engineered PLGA Microparticles for Long-Term, Pulsatile Release of STING Agonist for Cancer Immunotherapy

By August 24, 2020No Comments

Read the Publication

This week we profile a recent publication in Science Translational Medicine from the laboratory
of Dr. Ana Jaklenec (pictured) at the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Our group works at the interface of engineering and immunology with a focus on global health. The lab develops innovative and translatable technologies to help large populations globally and especially in developing countries. We are currently working in the following areas: developing single-injection self-boosting vaccines; nanocarrier-based vaccine approaches targeting protective memory responses after parenteral immunization; 3D printed on-demand microneedle vaccines; developing on patient medical records using invisible dyes; creating long-term drug delivery systems for cancer immunotherapy; developing heat stable polymer-based carriers for oral delivery of micronutrients and probiotics.

More info can be found on our website:

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

STING agonist – a cancer immunotherapeutic drug – could produce strong antitumor immune responses, but requires repeated injections directly into tumors over months to achieve efficacy. Such frequent injections causes difficulties for patients to comply, and increases risk of cancer metastasis, infections, and chronic injection pain. To solve these problems, we developed a biocompatible and biodegradable microparticle platform that could programmatically release scheduled doses of STING agonist with just one injection. We demonstrated that these microparticles could inhibit tumor growth as effectively as multiple injections in several mouse tumor models. Being able to combine multiple doses into one injection, these microparticles also reduced the chance of metastasis and expanded the scope of STING agonist therapies to treat hard-to-reach tumors or prevent tumor recurrence after surgical removal.

What are the next steps for this research?

Our ultimate goal is to translate this technology to benefit cancer patients. The next steps are investigating scale-up production and optimizing the size and geometry of these microparticles to enable higher drug loading and injection with smaller needles.

This work was funded by:

Funding: X.L. was supported by a Ludwig Postdoctoral Fellowship. L.M. was supported by a Misrock Postdoctoral Fellowship. K.M. was supported by an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32EB022416). K.S. was supported by a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship (1F32EB025688-0A1). This work is supported in part by the Cancer Center Support (core) (grant no. P30-CA14051) from the NIH.

Read the Publication