Nanoparticles of different sizes formulated with unmodified RNA and Protamine differentially engage Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) and activate innate immune responses in vitro. Here, we report that similar differential immunostimulation that depends on the nanoparticle sizes is induced in vivo in wild type as well as in humanized mice. In addition, we found that the schedule of injections strongly affects the magnitude of the immune response. Immunostimulating 130 nm nanoparticles composed of RNA and Protamine can promote lung metastasis clearance but provides no control of subcutaneous tumors in a CT26 tumor model. We further enhanced the therapeutic capacity of Protamine-RNA nanoparticles by incorporating chemotherapeutic base analogues in the RNA; we coined these immunochemotherapeutic RNAs (icRNAs). Protamine-icRNA nanoparticles were successful at controlling established subcutaneous CT26 and B16 tumors as well as orthotopic glioblastoma. These data indicate that icRNAs are promising cancer therapies, which warrants their further validation for use in the clinic.
Keywords: 5FU; Chemotherapy; RNA; immunotherapy; toll like receptor; type I interferon.