Cellular therapy has not had much success in fighting solid tumors, partly because it has been difficult to deliver anti-cancer T cells to the tumors. A strategy developed by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash., could help. The team equipped a synthetic scaffold loaded with cancer-fighting T cells and a mix of nutrients to keep the cells healthy and primed to attack cancer.
'The key to our scaffold is that ifs not just a structure," says senior author Matthias Stephan, a specialist in developing biomaterials. "The components we've engineered into these scaffolds include an optimal mix of stimulating factors and other ingredients that allow the T cells to survive and proliferate and to maintain a sustained fight against cancerous cells."
In the study, the researchers equipped the scaffold with chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR-T cells, which are engineered in the lab to seek out proteins that are specific to cancerous cells and then destroy the cells.
T cells are finicky. You cannot just inject them into a tumor and have them go to work. They will die within a couple of days if they are not in an environment equipped with the right mix of nutrients and ways to eliminate waste. Plus, tumors release self-defense chemicals that stop T cells from working.
Stephan and his team...