Rice lab’s injectable gel feeds steady dose of drugs to tumor cells
An immunotherapy drug embedded in a slow-release hydrogel invented at Rice University in collaboration with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) appears to be highly effective at killing cancer cells.
STINGel combines a new class of immunotherapy drugs called stimulator of interferon gene (STING) agonists with an injectable hydrogel that releases the drug in a steady dose to activate the immune system to kill cancer cells. It was developed by the Rice lab of chemist and bioengineer Jeffrey Hartgerink and Rice alum Simon Young, an assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at UTHealth.
In clinical trials, immunotherapy drugs have demonstrated strong cancer-fighting abilities. Research has also found that the drugs are flushed quickly from the body, and current trials require multiple injections.
The new research, which is detailed in Biomaterials, showed that slow-release peptide gels could continuously deliver immunotherapy drugs to tumor sites for long periods of time.
Hartgerink is a pioneer in the development of self-assembling multidomain peptide (MDP) hydrogels, which mimic the body’s extracellular matrix to encourage the growth of cells and vascular systems for tissue repair. The hydrogel is injected as a liquid, turns semisolid inside the body and slowly degrades over time.
The hydrogel in the new study is also welcoming to cells, but when the invaders are cancer cells, they’re in for trouble. Immunotherapy drugs known as cyclic dinucleotides (CDNs) await them inside the gel.
Hartgerink, a professor of chemistry and bioengineering, said the concentration of CDN in the hydrogel is important.
“The normal approach to CDN delivery is simple injection, but this leads to very rapid diffusion of the drug throughout the body and reduces its concentration at the site of the tumor to very low levels,” he said. “Using the same amount of CDN, the STINGel approach allows the concentration of CDN near the tumor to remain much higher for long periods of time.”
STINGel was studied both in lab cultures and in vivo. For the in vivo portion, six groups of 10 rodents each were treated with CDN alone, control collagens alone or with CDN, MDP alone or STINGel (CDN plus MDP). Only one in 10 CDN or collagen plus CDN animals survived 105 days, but six of 10 animals treated with STINGel survived. These also proved resistant to further implantation of cancer cells, meaning their immune systems were trained to successfully identify and destroy both the existing cancer and future occurrence of that cancer, Hartgerink said.
The lab tested more common hydrogels but found that they were unable to provide the same controlled release and also failed to provide an additional benefit over CDN treatment seen in clinical trials. “The MDP hydrogel provides a unique environment for the release of CDN that other gels just can’t match,” Hartgerink said.
“The CDN we used in this study is currently in clinical trials,” he said. “We think that our STINGel approach has the potential to significantly broaden the scope of this powerful immunotherapy drug to a larger range of resistant cancers.”
The Latest on: Cancer immunotherapy
Immunotherapy Prolongs Hepatocellular Carcinoma Survival
on April 18, 2018 at 1:09 pm
The immunotherapy uses T-lymphocytes derived from a ... "Once again, the results are quite impressive," Sokol told Medscape Medical News. "In cancer trials, if you prolong your survival without recurrence by 14, 16, 18 months, that's frequently considered ... […]
Synthetic biology approaches to improving immunotherapy
on April 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm
The AACR 2018 Meeting in Chicago is ending today and has featured the major new results in cancer treatment and immunotherapy treatments in particular. Immunotherapy, the use of the patient’s own immune system to attack their cancer, has become a hot ... […]
Delivering cancer treatment on a nanodisc helps eliminate tumors
on April 18, 2018 at 11:44 am
... system - a drug hidden in a nanodisc - to increase the number of patients who can be treated successfully with cancer immunotherapy drugs. The nanodisc is made of a synthetic version of high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as "good cholesterol." […]
New studies give hope to people with lung cancer
on April 18, 2018 at 10:22 am
But there's a great potential that they can be beneficial for some patients,” Dr. Yilmaz said.The center is putting that potential to the test, researching how adding immunotherapy can help not just lung cancer patients, but women with ovarian cancer and ... […]
Immune therapy scores big win against lung cancer in study
on April 18, 2018 at 6:10 am
CHICAGO — For the first time, a treatment that boosts the immune system greatly improved survival in people newly diagnosed with the most common form of lung cancer. It’s the biggest win so far for immunotherapy, which has had much of its success until ... […]
Immunotherapy transforms lung cancer, the biggest cancer killer
on April 17, 2018 at 8:16 am
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings. Immune therapy drugs can transform lung cancer treatment, giving patients years of extra life, doctors reported Monday. They found that pre-treating ... […]
Lung Cancer Patients Live Longer With Immune Therapy
on April 17, 2018 at 5:59 am
The findings, medical experts say, should change the way doctors treat lung cancer: Patients with this form of the disease should receive immunotherapy as early as possible. “What it suggests is that chemotherapy alone is no longer a standard of care ... […]
Merck Immunotherapy Drug Shines In Lung Cancer Study
on April 16, 2018 at 2:43 pm
There's encouraging news for cancer treatments that stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells. A widely used immunotherapy drug appears to be useful in a greater number of patients with lung cancer. The drug called Keytruda, or pembrolizumab, is ... […]
Treatment combo nearly doubles survival time in lung cancer patients, study finds
on April 16, 2018 at 6:35 am
(CNN)Combining an immunotherapy drug with chemotherapy nearly doubled the survival time of some lung cancer patients compared to patients treated with chemotherapy alone, new research published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed. […]
For advanced lung cancer, immune therapy plus chemo prolongs survival
on April 16, 2018 at 6:30 am
Patients with newly diagnosed advanced lung cancer who received an immunotherapy drug plus standard chemotherapy lived significantly longer than those who got chemo alone, according to a new study that is expected to change the way such patients are treated. […]
via Google News and Bing News