‘Drug Factory’ Implants Cure Mesothelioma Tumors

Cytokine ‘drug factory’ eliminates tumors in mice

Researchers from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine confirmed that the combination of cytokine drug factory implants with PD-1 protein targeting checkpoint inhibitors can eliminate advanced-stage mesothelioma tumors in mouse models. These confirmations, previously tested in mice in Omid Veiseh’s cytokine “drug factory” implant technology, form the basis for human studies. This breakthrough in the medicine factory gives hope to the mesothelioma community. If you or a loved one have mesothelioma, this discovery could lead to a cure.

Our goal from the beginning was to develop a platform therapy that can be used for several different types of immune system diseases or different types of cancer.— Amanda Nash, a graduate student at Rice University and co-leader of the immune cell study

What do cytokines do in the body?

The cells in your body produce proteins called cytokines, which act as messengers between cells. Cells release cytokines into your blood and directly into tissues to locate and then attach to receptors on targeted immune cells. This interaction stimulates specific target cell responses.

Mesothelioma Hub cytokine producing cell

Cytokines can have different meanings, but they all regulate the body’s response to disease and infection. Cytokines can:

  • Stimulate the production of blood cells
  • Assisting in the development, maintenance and repair of tissues
  • regulate the immune system
  • Drive inflammation through interleukins

How do drug factory beads treat mesothelioma?

In the laboratory at the Veiseh Medical Center, the drug factory’s implants eliminated tumors in 50 percent of the test mice. The cytokine drug factories consist of alginate beads that scientists genetically manipulate 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 the white blood cells since these cells are responsible for immunity. The drug-producing alginate beads can continuously produce high doses of interleukin-2 when placed next to tumors. This treatment is unique because the factories are only 1.5 millimeters wide and doctors can implant them with minimally invasive procedures. In the experimental operations on mice, the scientists placed the beads next to tumors in the pleura, the thin lining of the lungs and chest. The tumors in the mesothelioma clinical study were completely destroyed in the mice administered the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor with the implants.

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Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos getting into the pleura and other parts of the body. US citizens can often find asbestos in older buildings, water pipes, and products and tools. Mesothelioma specialists are working diligently to find new therapies to treat this lung-related cancer. The clinical study by Dr. Veiseh is just one example of how doctors and scientists are working to find a cure for mesothelioma.

What does interleukin do for inflammation?

There are two types of inflammatory cytokines: pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-inflammatory cytokines. When damaged tissue shows up, the body introduces pro-inflammatory cytokines into inflammatory responses. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory cytokines regulate and control pro-inflammatory cytokines. Interleukins control the growth and activation of immune cells. Various cytokines can be pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory depending on how doctors use them to treat mesothelioma. Interleukins work with the mesothelioma’s malignant cytokine network to eradicate tumors.

Will there be a clinical trial for mesothelioma patients?

This development in cancer treatment suggests hope for clinical trials in mesothelioma patients. “The preclinical data reported in our latest manuscript helped justify the initiation of a second clinical trial in patients with mesothelioma and other lung cancers with pleural metastases,” said Veiseh. “We have been in discussions with the FDA and expect to initiate a second study in this patient population in the second half of 2023.”

For more information on the Phase 2 clinical trial and other breaking cancer news, contact the Mesothelioma Hub team.

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