Cancer cells turned into liquidators of their “native” tumor

(ORDO NEWS) — The experimental vaccine uses live but specially reprogrammed cancer cells.

They actively look for a tumor, and when they get to it, they kill cancer cells and at the same time stimulate the immune system. Such a drug successfully rid mice of brain cancer.

Harvard doctors have learned how to turn cancer cells into destroyers of their own kind.

Once in the body, such cells independently find “their” tumor, trigger the mechanisms of its self-destruction and simultaneously increase the activity of the immune system in order to prevent the development of new tumors.

The first experiments were carried out on laboratory animals that were cured of glioblastoma, the most common and dangerous form of brain cancer.

In recent years, scientists have stepped up work on vaccines to fight malignant tumors. As a rule, such drugs are based on proteins characteristic of cancer cells, training the immune system to detect and destroy them.

And Moderna, in the wake of the success of its RNA vaccine against Covid-19, is already conducting clinical trials of a similar agent that carries fragments of the melanoma genome.

Unlike previous work, the vaccine, which is being developed by the team of Harvard Medical School professor Khalid Shah, contains real live cancer cells.

This allows them to use their natural affinity for the tumor, the ability to find it and actively move closer “to their own”.

Previously, such cells undergo gene modification using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, turning into agents dangerous for the tumor.

Once in place, the genetically engineered Therapeutic Tumor Cells (ThTCs) secrete interferon-β and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor.

These cytokines trigger the built-in mechanisms of cell suicide ( apoptosis ) in tumors and also stimulate the immune response.

In addition, ThTCs include receptors that allow them to be quickly destroyed if such cells get out of control as a result of new mutations.

Khalid Shah and his colleagues tested the new technology on several strains of “humanized” lab mice as models for human cancer research.

Experiments confirmed the effectiveness and safety of “therapeutic cells”: animals got rid of glioblastoma , the most common and one of the most aggressive types of brain cancer.

The use of ThTCs made it possible to destroy the disease, prevent the emergence of new malignant tumors, and was able to prolong the life of mice.

Scientists believe that the new technology will be useful in the fight against other types of tumors. They intend to continue working on it and plan to move into human clinical trials within three to five years.

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