Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have developed an “artificial lymph node” to help multiply antigen-specific T cells to fight cancer. They used a hydrogel that contains immunostimulatory antigen-presenting nanoparticles to encourage T cells to proliferate, and have increased activity against specific antigens. Current T-cell based therapies for cancer involve extraction and expansion of T cells. The current approach could make T-cell therapies more potent.
The researchers isolated T cells from mice, cultured them for a week with the immunostimulating hydrogel, and re-injected them once the tumors had grown. In mouse models of melanoma, they found that the T cells cultured on the hydrogel helped reduce average tumor size and improved survival from 30 days to greater than 40 days.
“As we perfect the hydrogel and replicate the essential feature of the natural environment, including chemical growth factors that attract cancer-fighting T-cells and other signals, we will ultimately be able to design artificial lymph nodes for regenerative immunology-based therapy,” said Jonathan Schneck, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology, medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and one of the researchers on the study.
Image: T-cells interacting with the transparent gel. Credit: Hawley Pruitt
The publication in Advanced Materials: Engineering an Artificial T‐Cell Stimulating Matrix for Immunotherapy…