Immunotherapy is becoming a promising treatment approach for cancer patients with recurring tumors, and more studies will help to further develop the treatment options.
Surgical resection is still the first-line treatment for solid tumors despite the rate of tumor recurrence with this approach. Surgery to remove tumors provokes wound healing processes that promote local immunosuppressive environments and metastasis. Surgical resection of tumors can also remove beneficial immune cells and factors that could promote targeting and killing of tumor cells. Radio- or chemotherapy as an adjunct to surgery has some limited effects on distant metastasis, but these treatments are associated with significant systemic adverse effects.
Immunotherapy is becoming a promising cancer treatment approach, but further studies are needed to improve efficiency. Intratumoral immunotherapy is challenging because multiple tumor survival mechanisms would have to be overcome to improve success. However, the use of an effective immunotherapy after removal of a solid tumor may better provide a means to relieve the immunosuppressive postsurgical microenvironment and prevent metastasis of residual cells.
Employing biomaterial technology, a group of researchers studied the use of a material applied to surgical tumor resection sites to address the immunosuppressive microenvironment and metastatic potential of residual cancer cells. They did this by developing a hydrogel scaffold made from modified hyaluronic acid and loaded with factors that stimulate dendritic cells. The loaded hydrogel scaffolding was implanted into laboratory mice at sites of tumor resection. One of the molecules, STING (stimulator of interferon genes)-RR, stimulates tumor-resident dendritic cells to produce interferon-beta (IFN-beta), a factor necessary for tumor-induced T-cell priming.
The compounds within the hydrogel were released over an extended time period to increase the duration of efficacy. The activation of dendritic cells by the stimulators led to T-cell activation and subsequent attack of tumor cells. The hydrogel application also led to increases in the number of dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and T cells. This and the significant increase in IFNs changed the surgical site microenvironment from immunosuppressive to immunostimulatory. Observation for up to three months showed no recurrence of tumors in the hydrogel-treated mice, and no systemic toxicity was noted. The local application of a dendritic cell–activating scaffold could provide a more precise, safe, and effective local immunotherapy for tumor resection sites.
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Novel Immunotherapeutic Approach Prevents Tumors from Reoccurring | GEN. (2018). GEN. Retrieved 16 April 2018, from https://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/novel-immunotherapeutic-approach-prevents-tumors-from-reoccurring/81255619