Immune-cell therapy relies on modifying a patient’s own T-cells to attack a specific tumor. The problem is delivering enough T-cells to their target. To overcome this issue, MIT scientists managed to encapsulate within special pods interleukins, drugs that promote proliferation of new T-cells, and attach these vehicles onto the backs of tumor hunting T-cells. Sixteen days after mice with lung and bone marrow tumors were subjected to the treatment their tumors disappeared entirely.
While he is now focusing on immune-cell therapy, Irvine [Darrell Irvine, associate professor of biological engineering and materials science and engineering and a member of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research] believes his cell pouches could be useful for other applications, including targeted delivery of chemotherapy agents. “There are lots of people studying nanoparticles for drug delivery, especially in cancer therapy, but the vast majority of nanoparticles injected intravenously go into the liver or the spleen. Less than 5 percent reach the tumor,” says Irvine, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
With a new way to carry drugs specifically to tumors, scientists may be able to resurrect promising drugs that failed in clinical trials because they were cleared from the bloodstream before they could reach their intended targets, or had to be given in doses so high they had toxic side effects.
Irvine and his colleagues also demonstrated that they could attach their pouches to the surface of immature blood cells found in the bone marrow, which are commonly used to treat leukemia. Patients who receive bone-marrow transplants must have their own bone marrow destroyed with radiation or chemotherapy before the transplant, which leaves them vulnerable to infection for about six months while the new bone marrow produces blood cells.
Full story from MIT: A pharmacy on the back of a cell…
Abstract in Nature Medicine: Therapeutic cell engineering with surface-conjugated synthetic nanoparticles