Radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancers destroy tumors and healthy tissue alike, often leading to severe side effects. Cancer immunotherapy approaches, which stimulate the immune system to selectively attack tumor cells, represent an opportunity to treat cancer without harming healthy cells.
While immunotherapy approaches have been successful against hematological malignancies, they have been less effective in eradicating solid tumors. This is partially due to the ability of tumors to suppress local immune responses. A major goal of cancer immunotherapies that are in development has been to improve the targeting of solid tumors.
A team led by Matthias Stephan at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has developed a biopolymer delivery system that combines two synergistic immunotherapy approaches: CAR T cells (immune cells that are reprogrammed to target tumors), and STING agonists, which stimulate the innate immune system. In a study published this week in the JCI, they show that this method of activating the immune system at the site of CAR T cell delivery eliminates tumors more effectively than CAR T cell therapy alone.
The researchers implanted a biopolymer scaffold to co-deliver STING agonists and CAR T cells to tumor sites in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer and melanoma. The STING agonists improved the function of CAR T cells compared to CAR T cells that were delivered alone. However, the STING agonists also triggered anti-tumor responses within the mice that prevented tumor metastasis. These findings provide promising support for combined immunotherapy approaches for treating solid cancers.
TITLE: Biopolymers co-delivering engineered T cells and STING agonists can eliminate heterogeneous tumors
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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