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MIT scientists discover cancer-fighting role for cells
Date:1/19/2011

, the endothelial cell may then keep it in check. However, the cancer cell fights back by trying to destroy the extracellular matrix or change the endothelial cell directly, both of which hinder the endothelial cell's efforts to control the cancer.

"There is this three-way balance that needs to be achieved," says Edelman. The more aggressive a cancer cell, the more likely it is to overcome the endothelial cells and extracellular matrix, allowing it to spread to other tissues.

Several years ago, Edelman began using endothelial cells, grown within a scaffold made of denatured, compressed collagen (a protein that makes up much of human connective tissue), as an implantable device. The "matrix-embedded endothelial cells" served as a convenient unit that could be produced in bulk, tested for quality control, retained intact for months and implanted immediately when needed. This way, the healthiest cells could be selected to secrete all of the chemicals normally released by endothelial cells and placed in multiple locations in the body to control disease.

In clinical trials these implants were placed around blood vessels after vascular surgery and controlled local clotting and infection better than devices without cells. Significantly, because the endothelial cells were associated with a matrix mimicking their natural state, even cells from other people could be implanted without being rejected by the patients' immune systems. No major side effects were seen in the clinical trials,

"Blood vessels and endothelial cells are the perfect regulatory units and our synthetic device recapitulated these control units perfectly," says Franses. Blood vessels penetrate to the deepest recesses of tumors, and in doing so carry the powerful regulatory endothelial cells as close to cancer cells as possible. The extracellular matrix backbone of the vessels can keep the endothelial cells healthy and the healthy endothelial cells control nearby cancer
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Contact: Jessica Holmes
holmesj@mit.edu
617-253-2702
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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