Modding T-Cells With Tiny Pills to Better Fight Cancer

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Darrell Irvine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues have found an interesting way to upgrade the naturally occurring cells that fight cancer, the T-cells. The T-cells belong to a group of white blood cells focused on cell-mediated immunity. When cancerous cells are inside the body, certain T-cells swarm over and destroy the cancerous cells; however, various tumors tend to emit an unknown mix of chemicals that weaken T-cells if they get too close, thus preventing the T-cells from destroying the cancerous area.

Irvine’s team found they could strengthen these T-cells’ fight against cancerous cells by attaching 100 nanoparticle capsules to a single T-cell without impairing the cell’s function, and fill the capsule with drugs, essentially creating a nanopill that strengthens the T-cell.

After attaching the nanocapsules to the T-cells, they filled the capsules with interleukins, which are molecules naturally produced by the immune system to help the T-cells’s endurance, then injected the modded T-cells into mice with bone and lung cancer and found that the modded T-cells fought the tumors much longer than the modded T-cells with empty nanocapsules. They also found that the mice injected with the nanocapsules filled with interleukins were improving in health over a month after treatment, whereas the mice injected with the empty nanocapsules died within thirty days.

Not only is Irvine’s method of beefing up T-cells safer than bathing the entire body in interleukins, but modding T-cells is thought to be a much cheaper method of treatment.

(via New Scientist)


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