The Adjuvant Properties of RNA Origami for Immunotherapy in a CT26 Cancer Model

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The properties of adjuvants to stimulate an immune response to treat cancer has sparked a major area of research in the field of immunotherapy. Given the presence of multiple RNA

The properties of adjuvants to stimulate an immune response to treat cancer has sparked a major area of research in the field of immunotherapy. Given the presence of multiple RNA sensors in mammalian host cells for eliciting innate immunity, synthetic RNA nanostructures present a unique opportunity for adjuvant exploration. While RNA nanostructures are organic and biocompatible in nature than other adjuvants, they could be tailored to have desired structural stability and functional diversity for in vivo application. In this study, a rectangular RNA origami nanostructure was designed to contain double-stranded RNA motifs and possess high structural stability. Using in vitro assays, RNA origami was shown to stimulate the toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) signaling pathway, which has been reported to activate antigen presenting cells (APCs), natural killer (NK) cells, cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8) T-cells, and the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. To explore RNA origami as an adjuvant for cancer immunotherapy, intraperitoneal administration of a murine colon cancer cell line (CT26) was used as a model system to mimic peritoneal metastasis (PM), in which RNA origami was investigated for its activities in mitigating PM tumor microenvironment and improving anti-tumor immunity. Given the poor outcome of the patients with PM and urgent need for new interventions, this study aims to translate the adjuvant activities of RNA origami demonstrated in vitro into potent anti-cancer immunotherapeutics. Here, it was shown that multiple intraperitoneal injections of RNA origami could inhibit tumor growth, leading to a significant delay and/or regression of metastatic tumor growth in the peritoneum. Furthermore, tumor-free mice, after being treated with RNA origami, were also resistant to a second challenge of tumor cells, indicating the development of the adaptive anti-tumor immunity. This immunity is dependent on T-cells since nude mice succumbed to tumor growth with or without RNA origami treatment. Thus, RNA-origami can function as an adjuvant to activate the innate immunity and subsequently the adaptive anti-tumor immunity, leading to tumor regression. Conceivably, RNA origami could be explored as an immunotherapeutic agent to improve the disease outcome of patients with peritoneal metastasis and peritoneal carcinogenesis.