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Implants mimic infection to rally immune system against tumors
Date:1/22/2009

dritic cells then report to nearby lymph nodes, where they activate the immune system's T cells to hunt down and kill tumor cells throughout the body.

"Much as an immune response to a bacterium or virus generates long-term resistance to that particular strain, we anticipate our materials will generate permanent and body-wide resistance against cancerous cells, providing durable protection against relapse," says Mooney, a core member of the recently established Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

The implants could also be loaded with bacterial or viral antigens to safeguard against an array of infectious diseases. They could even redirect the immune system to combat autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, which occurs when immune cells attack insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

"This study demonstrated a powerful new application for polymeric biomaterials that may potentially be used to treat a variety of diseases by programming or reprogramming host cells," Mooney and his co-authors write in Nature Materials. "The system may be applicable to other situations in which it is desirable to promote a destructive immune response (for example, eradicate infectious diseases) or to promote tolerance (for example, subvert autoimmune disease)."


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Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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