Nanobiologic approach trains the innate immune system to eliminate tumor cells

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A groundbreaking new type of cancer immunotherapy developed at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai trains the innate immune system to help it eliminate tumor cells through the use of nanobiologics, tiny materials bioengineered from natural molecules that are paired with a therapeutic component, according to a study published in Cell in October.

This nanobiologic immunotherapy targets the bone marrow, where part of the immune system is formed, and activates a process called trained immunity. This process reprograms bone marrow progenitor cells to produce “trained” innate immune cells that halt the growth of cancer, which is normally able to protect itself from the immune system with the help of other types of cells, called immunosuppressive cells.

This work for the first time demonstrates that trained immunity can be successfully and safely induced for the treatment of cancer. The research was performed in animal models, including a mouse model with melanoma, and the researchers said it is being developed for clinical testing.

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Potentially the biggest medical breakthrough since penicillin

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“Immunotherapy is the biggest breakthrough in medicine in our generation”: Associate Professor Alex Menzies from Melanoma Institute Australia.

If there is reason to have faith in the scientists, immunologists, virologists and oncologists racing to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, it is the stunning progress they are having in reducing deaths from what is called “Australia’s cancer”.

A decade ago, a diagnosis of advanced or stage four melanoma was effectively a death sentence within six to nine months.

But a leading medical oncologist, Associate Professor Alex Menzies from Melanoma Institute Australia, believes immunotherapy treatments – using the body’s immune system to attack the cancer cells – mean 50 per cent of these patients are surviving long enough to be considered cured.

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93% of cancer patients respond to souped-up-immune cells

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In a new study of CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, 93% of patients responded to the treatment.

 Two physicians had major roles in a cutting-edge clinical trial using the body’s own immune cells to fight late-stage cancer, one as a researcher and one as a patient.

Senior author Patrick Reagan, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology at University of Rochester Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute, helped run the national clinical investigation of CAR T-cell therapy.

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CRISPR is now being used on humans in the U.S.

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The gene editing trial has two patients so far.

CRISPR therapies are entering the mainstream.

The first U.S. trial of CRISPR in humans has begun, NPR reported Tuesday. Two patients are currently being treated as part of a University of Pennsylvania study. Per NPR, both have difficult-to-treat forms of cancer and both have relapsed after regular treatments. As part of the trial, researchers are taking immune cells from the patients’ own bodies and editing them with CRISPR before putting them back in. The hope is that these edited cells will be better at identifying and attacking the cancer than their unaltered counterparts. According to the U.S. government clinical trial registry, the researchers are hoping to enroll 18 people in their study. But it’s not certain yet whether they’ll be approved for that many subjects, reports Jon Fingas for Engadget.

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Device tests thousands of stem cells super fast

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Institute for Molecular Engineering researchers have developed a “lab-on-a-chip” that could help us understand how single stem cells react to different molecules and environments. (Credit: Zhang et al.)

A new “lab-on-a-chip” can examine thousands of individual live cells over a weeklong period, performing experiments that would take more than 1 million steps in a laboratory.

The credit-card-sized, microfluidic device not only saves time and money, but also offers a new glimpse into how single stem cells react to different molecules and environments.

When researchers examined neural stem cells on the device and analyzed the data, they found several new rules that determine the timing and signaling sequences necessary for the cells to differentiate or renew themselves. The finding could have implications in understanding brain development or in treating patients with immunotherapy.

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Scientists just found a novel, cheap way to use CRISPR gene editing to fight cancer

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Immunotherapy Holds Big Promise for Beating Cancer

CRISPR is by all accounts a fascinating technology. Its headline feature is that it can literally be used to slice, dice, and otherwise manipulate the body’s genetic code—functions that could carry staggering implications for treating everything from inherited disorders to cancer to HIV/AIDS one day.

Now, new (though extremely early) research suggests that CRISPR could be used to vastly improve upon a new form of cancer-fighting methods that turn the body’s own immune T cells into specially targeted killers that attack cancerous tissue.

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Colon Cancer Vaccine

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X-ray image shows a barium enema in a patient with cancer of the bowel

A cancer vaccine with a twist is making headway in clinical trials at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Rather than targeting a cancer-related virus–the way Gardasil targets human papillomavirus to prevent some cervical cancers–the new vaccine triggers the immune system to attack a faulty protein that’s often abundant in colorectal cancer tissue and precancerous tissue.

 

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