Cytokine “Drug Factory” Eliminate Tumors in Mice
Researchers from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine confirmed that combining cytokine drug factory implants with PD-1 protein-targeting checkpoint inhibitors can eliminate advanced-stage mesothelioma tumors in mouse models. Previously tested in Omid Veiseh’s cytokine “drug factory” implants technology on mice, these confirmations lay the groundwork for human trials. This medicine factory breakthrough presents hope for the mesothelioma community. If you or a loved one have mesothelioma, this discovery could lead to a cure.
“From the beginning, our objective was to develop a platform therapy that can be used for multiple different types of immune system disorders or different types of cancers.” – Amanda Nash, Rice University Graduate Student and Immune Cell Study Co-Lead
What Do Cytokines Do to the Body?
Your body’s cells produce proteins called cytokines that serve as messengers between cells. Cells release cytokines into your blood and directly into tissues to locate targeted immune cells, then binding to receptors. This interaction stimulates specific responses by the target cell.
Cytokines can have varying meanings, but they all regulate the body’s response to disease and infection. Cytokines can:
- Stimulate the production of blood cells
- Aid in the development, maintenance, and repair of tissues
- Regulate the immune system
- Drive inflammation through interleukins
How Do the Drug Factory Beads Treat Mesothelioma?
While in Veiseh’s medical center lab, the drug factory implants eliminated tumors in 50 percent of the trial mice. The cytokine drug factories consist of alginate beads that scientists genetically engineer to naturally produce interleukin-2, one of two cytokines approved by the FDA to treat cancer. The function of an interleukin is to regulate the activities of white blood cells as these cells are responsible for immunity. The drug-producing alginate beads can produce continuous high doses of interleukin-2 when placed next to tumors. This treatment is unique as the factories are just 1.5 millimeters wide and doctors can implant them with minimally invasive surgery. In the trial surgeries on mice, scientists placed the beads beside tumors inside the pleura, the thin lining of the lungs and chest. The mesothelioma clinical trial tumors were completely destroyed for the mice that were given the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor with the implants.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos entering the pleura and other body parts. US residents can often find asbestos in older buildings, water pipes, and products and tools. Mesothelioma specialists work diligently to find new therapies to treat this lung-related cancer. Dr. Veiseh’s clinical trial is just one example of doctors and scientists working to find a mesothelioma cure.
What Does Interleukin Do in Inflammation?
There are two types of inflammatory cytokines: pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-inflammatory cytokines. When damaged tissues present themselves, the body introduces pro-inflammatory cytokines in inflammatory reactions. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory cytokines regulate and control the pro-inflammatory cytokines. Interleukins control the growth and activation of immune cells. Different cytokines can be pro- and anti-inflammatory depending on how they are utilized by doctors in mesothelioma treatment. Interleukins collaborate with the mesothelioma malignant cytokine network to eradicate tumors.
Will There Be a Clinical Trail for Mesothelioma Patients?
This cancer treatment development indicates hope for mesothelioma patient clinical trials. “The preclinical data reported in our latest manuscript helped justify initiating a second clinical trial for patients suffering from mesothelioma and other lung cancers with pleural metastasis,” according to Veiseh. “We have held meetings with the FDA and expect to initiate a second trial for this patient population in the latter half of 2023.”