Targeted delivery of a STING agonist to brain tumors using bioengineered protein nanoparticles for enhanced immunotherapy

Bin Wang, Maoping Tang, Ziwei Yuan, Zhongyu Li, Bin Hu, Xin Bai, Jinxian Chu, Xiaoyang Xu, Xue Qing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Immunotherapy is emerging as a powerful tool for combating many human diseases. However, the application of this life-saving treatment in serious brain diseases, including glioma, is greatly restricted. The major obstacle is the lack of effective technologies for transporting therapeutic agents across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and achieving targeted delivery to specific cells once across the BBB. Ferritin, an iron storage protein, traverses the BBB via receptor-mediated transcytosis by binding to transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) overexpressed on BBB endothelial cells. Here, we developed bioengineered ferritin nanoparticles as drug delivery carriers that enable the targeted delivery of a small-molecule immunomodulator to achieve enhanced immunotherapeutic efficacy in an orthotopic glioma-bearing mouse model. We fused different glioma-targeting moieties on self-assembled ferritin nanoparticles via genetic engineering, and RGE fusion protein nanoparticles (RGE-HFn NPs) were identified as the best candidate. Furthermore, RGE-HFn NPs encapsulating a stimulator of interferon genes (STING) agonist (SR717@RGE-HFn NPs) maintained stable self-assembled structure and targeting properties even after traversing the BBB. In the glioma-bearing mouse model, SR717@RGE-HFn NPs elicited a potent local innate immune response in the tumor microenvironment, resulting in significant tumor growth inhibition and prolonged survival. Overall, this biomimetic brain delivery platform offers new opportunities to overcome the BBB and provides a promising approach for brain drug delivery and immunotherapy in patients with glioma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-248
Number of pages17
JournalBioactive Materials
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Bioengineered protein nanoparticles
  • Blood brain barrier
  • Dual-targeting property
  • Glioma-targeted immunotherapy
  • STING agonist


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