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Researchers predict age of T cells to improve cancer treatment
Date:3/2/2011

Manipulation of cells by a new microfluidic device may help clinicians improve a promising cancer therapy that harnesses the body's own immune cells to fight such diseases as metastatic melanoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and neuroblastoma.

The therapy, known as adoptive T cell transfer, has shown encouraging results in clinical trials. This treatment involves removing disease-fighting immune cells called T cells from a cancer patient, multiplying them in the laboratory and then infusing them back into the patient's body to attack the cancer. The effectiveness of this therapy, however, is limited by the finite lifespan of T cells -- after many divisions, these cells become unresponsive and inactive.

Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University have addressed this limitation by developing a microfluidic device for sample handling that allows a statistical model to be generated to evaluate cell responsiveness and accurately predict cell "age" and quality. Being able to assess the age and responsiveness of T cells -- and therefore transfer only young functional cells back into a cancer patient's body -- offers the potential to improve the therapeutic outcome of several cancers.

"The statistical model, enabled by the data generated with the microfluidic device, revealed an optimal combination of extracellular and intracellular proteins that accurately predict T cell age," said Melissa Kemp, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "Knowing this information will help facilitate the clinical development of appropriate T cell expansion and selection protocols."

Details on the microfluidic device and statistical model were published in the March issue of the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Georgia Cancer Coalition, and Georgia Tech Integrative
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Contact: Abby Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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