NOV 22, 2015 9:15 AM PST

Kill Cancer with an Intelligent, Injectable Gel?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
A new way of treating cancer may come in the form of an injectable gel. The “biogel” was developed in lab of Réjean Lapointe at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, to provide a better way to deliver anti-cancer immune cells to patients.
 
Researchers examine the injectable cancer-killing gel

“The strength of this biogel is that it is compatible with anti-cancer immune cells. It is used to encapsulate these cells and eventually administer them using a syringe or catheter into the tumour or directly beside it. Instead of injecting these cells or anti-cancer drugs throughout the entire body via the bloodstream, we can treat the cancer locally. We hope that this targeted approach will improve current immunotherapies.” Réjean Lapointe, senior author of the study.
 
Current immunotherapy techniques that use the patient’s own T cells to fight off cancer has been well established. But because the body’s natural T cells are insufficient in number and strength to fight off cancer fully, scientists devised a method give the T cells more firepower. Known as adoptive cell therapy (ACT), scientists collect the patient’s own T cells, modify them to enhance tumor recognition, increase their numbers to billions, and then inject them back into the patient to finish the job.
 
While this technique has shown to be effective in small trials involving leukemia and lymphoma patients, there are several limitations: extraordinarily high cell count requirement, and toxicity due to high doses of interleukin-2, a hormone added to maximize effectiveness.
 
The biogel breaks through these limitations as it requires millions of T cells instead of billions, and in the process, significantly reduces the toxicity by the interleukin-2 hormone. Developed by Sophie Lerouge, the biogel is made from biodegradable material taken from the shells of crustaceans. The biogel is liquid at room temperature and becomes a cohesive gel at 37 degrees Celsius, the human body temperature. Additionally, the biogel is non-toxic to the body and “provided excellent survival and growth of the encapsulated cells,” said Lerouge. Once inside the body, the gel serves as a “cellular reservoir” deploying and renewing the cancer-killing T cells.
 
"The T lymphocytes in the gel are functional and can grow for two to three weeks, be released from the gel, and kill the cancerous cells," explained Réjean Lapointe, senior author.
 
Early in vitro experiments testing the gel on melanoma and kidney cancer models have so far been reported as successful. The researchers plan to test the biogel in animal models, and if effective, will move towards human trials. If the biogel performs well, the tool will likely be adapted to treat many types of cancer in the next few years.
 
 
Sources: BioMaterials, Science Daily
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 11, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUL 11, 2019
Difficulties With Diagnosing Lyme Disease
Now found in 65 countries worldwide, Lyme disease is the fastest-growing vector-borne illness in the United States. Recent estimates suggest approximately ...
JUL 25, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUL 25, 2019
Tinea Versicolor, Diagnosis And Treatment
Tinea Versicolor (TV) is a fungal infection of the skin. Also called Pityriasis Versicolor, the condition is common, especially in tropical climates. The d...
AUG 08, 2019
Cardiology
AUG 08, 2019
The Best Way to Test Blood Pressure and Find Heart Disease
Heart disease causes hundreds of thousands of deaths annually -- can a new study on blood pressure tests guide doctors toward earlier diagnosis? About one ...
OCT 24, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
OCT 24, 2019
Patients can Self-Inject Easily Using an Integrated Pre-Filled Syringe and Autoinjector
The patients suffering from chronic disease require a regular dose of medicines, either orally or as injections. To prevent a monthly visit...
NOV 26, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 26, 2019
Cannabis Provides Relief from Headache and Migraine Pain
Innovative technology allowed researchers to conduct the first-ever study of cannabis use for the treatment of headache and migraine pain in real-time. Wit...
DEC 02, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 02, 2019
Scientists List Several Reasons Not to Use Marijuana During Pregnancy
An estimated 16 percent of women use marijuana on a daily basis while pregnant, and a large majority of women do so without realizing the potential health...
Loading Comments...