“Drug Factory”, implanted in mice, removes tumors in a week

Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Omid Veiseh presents “drug factory accounts” developed at Rice University

Among the many challenges of treating tumors is the difficulty of getting cancer drugs to the right places, in the right amounts.

A new type of implant, developed at Rice University, answers these two questions, carrying the cellular machinery necessary to produce and deliver continuous doses of anticancer compounds.

The new implant accomplishes this task with such power that it has withdraw 100% ovarian tumors in rats in one week.

The device was featured in a new study, published this month in the magazine Scientists progress.

The bioengineers behind this promising new form of treatment cancer immunosuppressant describe it as a “drug factory”, insofar as, once installed, it can continue to generate the compounds necessary to eliminate tumors by itself.

According to New Atlasimplants consist of small accounts the size of a pinhead, which are involved in cells carefully selected and enclosed in a protective shell.

The cells in these granules are engineered to produce a natural compound called interleukin-2, a cytokine what causes the activation of white blood cells fight against cancer.

These pellets were first tested in laboratory experiments, after being placed next to tumors in a peritoneum, a membrane that forms the wall of the abdominal cavity.

These “drug factories” have been shown to be able to selectively generate a interleukin-2 concentration inside tumors.

The following experiments were performed in advanced models of ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer in mice. AT accounts resumed work exceptionally well, eradicate tumors in rodents in just six days.

It is important to note that they only deliver high drug concentrations to the tumor site and limited exposure elsewhereavoiding the risk of toxicity for healthy cells.

“We only manage it once, but the drug factories keep doing the dose every daywhere it is needed until the the cancer is eliminated“, said the bioengineer Omid Veisehlead author of the study.

“Once we figured out the correct dose – how many plants would be needed – we were able to eradicate tumors 100% animals with ovarian cancer and in seven of eight animals with colorectal cancer,” he explained.

The protective shell plays an important role in the operation of drug factories, and not just in securing their contents.

This carapace is made of materials that the the immune system recognizes like strangers, but only as a threat that needs to be dealt with after a while. This ensures that processing will not continue indefinitely.

“We found foreign body reactions safe and robust by turning off the flow of cytokines capsules within 30 days,” Veiseh said.

“We have also demonstrated that we can safely administer a second treatment should it become necessary in the clinic.”

When they set out to design these drug factories, the scientists were careful to use only proven components as safe for use in the human body.

THE interleukin-2 is also an FDA-approved treatment for cancer, and the team says this new technology is able to induce an immune response stronger than existing treatments, due to its ability to provide elevated directly at tumor sites.

“In this study, we demonstrated that ‘drug factories’ allow a flexible local administration given interleukin-2 and tumor eradication in various mouse models, which is very exciting,” he said. Amir Jazaeri, co-author of the study. “This provides a solid foundation for clinical trials.”


According to the team, the technology could be adapted for use against other cancers, involving the granules with different cell types to induce different immune responses.

Inês Costa Macedo, ZAP //

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