Researchers at Rice University have created a cytokine delivery system that can produce localized immunotherapy at a tumor site for 15-30 days. The technology consists of cytokine-producing ARPE-19 cells that the researchers have encapsulated in small polymer beads. The beads can be delivered into the body using minimally invasive techniques and then reside near a tumor, releasing a cytokine that stimulates the immune system to attack the tumor. The researchers hope that the technology could provide a more effective way to treat particularly difficult cancers, such as ovarian cancer.
Immunotherapies have significant potential in cancer treatment, and have already changed the way that we treat certain cancers. There is also a certain elegance and satisfaction in priming the body to defeat the cancer itself, and the immune system can be highly effective at tracking down and destroying cancer cells when it is properly instructed.
However, some cancers are particularly difficult to treat. For instance, ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed when it is already at an advanced stage, and many patients suffer recurrence and a dismal prognosis. For such cancers, the dose of an immunotherapy required to make a significant difference in outcomes may be too high for a patient to bear, with significant side-effects being a possibility.
“A major challenge in the field of immunotherapy is to increase tumor inflammation and anti-tumor immunity while avoiding systemic side effects of cytokines and other pro-inflammatory drugs,” said Amir Jazaeri, a researcher involved in the study. “In this study, we demonstrated that the ‘drug factories’ allow regulatable local administration of interleukin-2 and eradication of tumor in several mouse models, which is very exciting. This provides a strong rationale for clinical testing.”
This new technology aims to provide localized immunotherapy in the form of beads that act as “drug factories,” constantly pumping out a cytokine. The beads consist of ARPE-19 cells that are encapsulated in a polymer shell. The polymer coating protects the cells from the worst ravages of the foreign body response, but keeps them in place and allows the secreted interleukin-2 to perfuse out into the tumor region. So far, the researchers have been able to eradicate ovarian and colorectal cancers in rodents using the technology.
“We just administer once, but the drug factories keep making the dose every day, where it’s needed until the cancer is eliminated,” said Omid Veiseh, another researcher involved in the study. “Once we determined the correct dose — how many factories we needed — we were able to eradicate tumors in 100% of animals with ovarian cancer and in seven of eight animals with colorectal cancer.”
See a video about the beads below.
Study in Science Advances: Clinically translatable cytokine delivery platform for eradication of intraperitoneal tumors
Via: Rice University