New Immunotherapy Technique Helps Fight Cancer, Keeps Healthy Cells Safe

American scientists have developed new cancer immunotherapy to localize cancer-killing cytokines in tumours to improve the effectiveness of the treatment. Read on to know more about it.
cancer immunotherapy

This therapeutic method is frequently implemented with the protein cytokine - small protein molecules that help control inflammation in the body

Researchers in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering have developed a new cancer immunotherapy to localize cancer-killing cytokines in tumors to improve treatment effectiveness.
Immunotherapy involves harnessing the power of the body’s immune system to fight against cancer cells. Researchers in the College of Engineering have found a way to revamp a treatment procedure into a groundbreaking practice.
Rong Tong and Wenjun Cai – professors in the college, teamed together to detail their approach which involves activating the immune cells in the body and reprogramming them to attack and destroy the cancer cells.
This therapeutic method is frequently implemented with the protein cytokine - small protein molecules that help control inflammation in the body. They are released by the body's immune cells to fight against cancer and improve treatment effectiveness.
“Cytokines are potent and highly effective at stimulating the immune cells to eliminate cancer cells,” Tong said. “The problem is they’re so potent that if they roam freely throughout the body, they’ll activate every immune cell they encounter, which can cause an overactive immune response and potentially fatal side effects.”
Current cancer treatments like chemotherapy cannot differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells, resulting in side effects like hair loss and fatigue, as it affects all cells in the body.

Why does chemotherapy cause side effects?

Chemotherapy targets active cells, which grow and divide as a part of the normal cell cycle. Both cancer cells and healthy cells are active cells going through the cell cycle. While cancer cells typically grow faster than normal, healthy cells, which means it is easier for chemotherapy to attack the cancer cells.
But some normal cells will be damaged by the chemotherapy, which includes cells in your blood, mouth, digestive system, and hair follicles.
Side effects happen when chemotherapy damages these healthy cells.
For most types of chemotherapy, side effects do not show how well treatment is working.

Immunotherapy aims to kill only cancer cells

The new research team says its goal is to only find a balance between killing cancer cells in the body and sparing healthy cells.
The team has used their expertise to create specialized particles with distinctive sizes that help determine where the drug is going. These microparticles are designed to stay within the tumor environment after being injected into the body. Cai and her students worked on measuring these particles’ surface properties.
“In the field of materials science and engineering, we study the surface chemistry and mechanical behavior of materials, such as the specialized particle created for this project,” Cai said. “Surface engineering and characterization, along with particle size, play important roles in controlled drug delivery, ensuring prolonged drug presence and sustained therapeutic effectiveness.”
To ensure successful drug delivery, Tong and his chemical engineering students designed a novel strategy that:
  • Anchors cytokines to these new microparticles, limiting the harm of cytokines to healthy cells
  • Allows the newly particle-anchored cytokines to jump-start immune systems and recruit immune cells to attack cancer cells
    How do people receive immunotherapy?
People receive immunotherapy through an intravenous (IV) infusion. You may receive immunotherapy daily, weekly, monthly or in a cycle. With cyclic immunotherapy, you take a rest period after treatment.
  • What are the risks and complications?
  • mmunotherapy doesn’t work on all kinds of cancer and it may not work for every person who receives treatment. Most immunotherapy treatments cause side effects. If your healthcare provider recommends immunotherapy, they’ll explain specific treatment side effects and ways they’ll help you manage those side effects.
  • Can immunotherapy cure cancer?
  • No, but immunotherapy can control cancer so people can live longer. In some cases, it slows down cancer’s growth. In other cases, it may shrink cancerous tumors. Unfortunately, not everyone who receives immunotherapy responds to treatment
    End of Article
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