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Yale scientists create artificial 'cells' that boost the immune response to cancer
Date:2/26/2008

New Haven, Conn. Using artificial cell-like particles, Yale biomedical engineers have devised a rapid and efficient way to produce a 45-fold enhancement of T cell activation and expansion, an immune response important for a patients ability to fight cancer and infectious diseases, according to an advance on line report in Molecular Therapy.

The artificial cells, developed by Tarek Fahmy, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Yale and his graduate student Erin Steenblock, are made of a material commonly used for biodegradable sutures. The authors say that the new method is the first off-the-shelf antigen-presenting artificial cell that can be tuned to target a specific disease or infection.

This procedure is likely to make it to the clinic rapidly, said senior author Fahmy. All of the materials we use are natural, biodegradable already have FDA approval.

Cancer, viral infections and autoimmune diseases have responded to immunotherapy that boosts a patients own antigen-specific T cells. In those previous procedures, a patients immune cells were harvested and then exposed to cells that stimulate the activation and proliferation of antigen-specific T-cells. The boosted immune cells were then infused back into the patient to attack the disease.

Limitations of these procedures include costly and tedious custom isolation of cells for individual patients and the risk of adverse reaction to foreign cells, according to the Yale researchers. They also pointed to difficulty in obtaining and maintaining sufficient numbers of activated T-cells for effective therapeutic response.

In the new system, the outer surface of each particle is covered in universal
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Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel
janet.emanuel@yale.edu
203-432-2157
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert  

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