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Cancer-fighting cells created

Wednesday December 7th, 2016

A novel artificial structure has been developed with the ability to cause immune cells to attack and destroy designated targets such as cancer cells, it has been announced.

PhD student Loek Eggermont and colleagues at the Figdor lab at Radboud University Medical Centre in The Netherlands investigated ways to mimic the cell membrane's ability to switch on immune cells.

They created artificial 'antigen presenting cells', to copy the action of similar body cells. These cells assess threats to the body by gathering information from proteins they are exposed to, and trigger T cells to attack these specific proteins.

The artificial cells are made using a filamentous polymer scaffold with a nanoworm-like structure and various T cell activating proteins embedded in it. From lab tests, the researchers discovered that these cells can influence both the proliferation and differentiation of T cells.

Mr Eggermont said: "Cancer immunotherapy strongly depends on proper activation of immune cells, such as T cells, to find and destroy the tumour cells. Right now, immunotherapies to fight cancer mostly depend on non-specific activation of the immune system.

"We have shown that an artificial antigen presenting cell can be effective in activating T cells in in vitro studies. Our findings also help us to better understand the mechanisms behind this T cell activation.

"Although more studies are now needed to see if this system works in animal models, we hope that it might one day lead towards development of new off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapies."

The findings are presented day (7 December) at the Joint Congress of the British and Dutch Societies for Immunology, taking place in Liverpool, UK.

Polyisocyanopeptide nanoworms as artificial antigen-presenting cells: towards efficient cancer immunotherapy. Presented on 7 December 2016 at the Joint Congress of the British and Dutch Societies for Immunology, held in Liverpool, UK, from 6-9 December 2016.

Tags: Cancer | Europe

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