Université de Strasbourg

Plant viruses and cancer treatment

Plant-derived peptides and nanovectors for the treatment and imaging of cancer

USIAS Fellow: Manfred Heinlein
Post-docs : Sonia Boscá and Caroline Spenlé

This project combines research in plant virology, biophysics and cancer medicine to create plant virus-derived nanocarriers for the targeted and highly concentrated delivery of anti-cancer agents to cancer cells and to test their therapeutic activity against cancer in cell culture and tumor mouse models. Plant viruses like the well known Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) are all around us and do not cause diseases in humans. TMV particles can be mass-produced in plants or in vitro assembled and they are malleable to both chemical and genetic manipulation, allowing them to be tailored to a desired size and therapeutic use, without having the detrimental effects that non-plant viruses can cause .

The project will design particles functionalized with fluorescent molecules, specific anti-cancer peptides and other therapeutic agents, and test their applicability in cancer detection and treatment. In addition, the project will isolate a peptide responsible for the ability of a TMV-encoded protein to interfere with mammalian cell division. We believe that this peptide could be developed into a novel cytostatic cancer drug that could be applied in combination with other tumor targeting molecules exposed on the surface of the TMV nanocarrier.

France 2030