The experimental development involves gene-edited cells hidden in pills to “trap” certain robust cancer subtypes.
Like a microscopic Trojan horse against cancer, a team of Spanish researchers developed biological capsules that will carry CAR-T cells (immune cells genetically designed to attack tumors), an innovative technique that will open the door to future treatments for different types of solid cancers. .
These small biocapsules or pills will function as a vehicle within the patient’s body to transport antitumor cells to the cancerous area and target malignant cells from within the tumor.
In the first stage of the research, the technique will be tested in subtypes of breast cancer using cell and animal models.
Xosé Bustelo, a scientist from Spain’s Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and one of the project’s main researchers, explained that “with this methodology we want to use the Trojan horse tactic: introducing CAR-T cells hidden in a protective capsule so that, once released, they cause the destruction of the tumor cells that surround them in the most effective way possible”.
To that end, the biocapsules will include cocktails of targeted biological molecules to facilitate the action of CAR-T cells released within the tumor.
“Using a simile of war, it is like being able to bomb an entire war zone after having inactivated the tumor’s anti-aircraft defenses,” the researcher explained in a statement released by the CSIC.
The use of genetically modified T lymphocytes (scientifically known as CAR-T cells), which can recognize molecules specifically expressed in tumor cells and, after that, promote their destruction, is a novel method of immunotherapy that is already applied in patients with tumors derived from blood cells.
The novelty to increase the effectiveness of the treatment in these cases is that the biocapsules will transport the lymphocytes right in the area where the tumor begins to appear “Then the capsule will allow the release of that drug and that drug to attack, let’s say” kill ”, cancer cells. The novelty in the capsule that these CAR-T will provide”, completed the project coordinator.
“Designing the Trojan horses that allow the soldiers inside them to be kept in top shape until battle and providing them with weapons that allow these soldiers, once they get off the horse, to be as lethal as possible against tumor cells,” Rivas Rey specified in the official statement in which the project was announced.
The project called “Encapsulation of CAR-T cells in bioactive nanostructured porous systems for their targeted release in solid tumors” is funded by the Spanish Government’s Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), with the participation of researchers from the Cancer Research Center of Salamanca (CIC, a joint research institute of the CSIC and the University of Salamanca), the Cancer Network Biomedical Research Center (CIBERONC), the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) and the Cima University of Navarra.
Sandrá Hervás, a researcher at the University of Navarra, explained that they will initially test the biocapsules in “various subtypes of breast cancer, which will be treated with genetically modified CAR-T cells so that they recognize molecules that are specifically expressed in each one.” of these subtypes.