Boston researchers re-engineer cancer cells to fight off 'their own kind'


Team of researchers reports promising results in preclinical models.

Team of researchers reports promising results in preclinical models.

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A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explores the power of gene editing to use cancer cells to kill cancer.

The team of researchers reports promising results in preclinical models across multiple types of cancer cells, and published their finidngs in Science Translation Medicine.

 “This is just the tip of the iceberg” said corresponding author Khalid Shah MS, PhD, director of the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging in the BWH Department of Neurosurgery in EurekAlert. “Cell-based therapies hold tremendous promise for delivering therapeutic agents to tumors and may provide treatment options where standard therapy has failed. With our technique, we show it is possible to reverse-engineer a patient’s own cancer cells and use them to treat cancer. We think this has many implications and could be applicable across all cancer cell types.”

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By harnessing the power of cancer cells’ self-homing ability – the process in which cancer cells can track the cells of their kind that have spread within the same organ or other parts of the body – researchers believe they will be able to overcome drug delivery challenges.

The team has developed and tested two techniques to use the power of the cancer cells.

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To test both approaches, the team used mouse models of primary and recurrent brain cancer and breast cancer that has spread to the brain.

The re-engineered cancer cells targeted and killed recurrent and metastatic cancer in the mice and increased the survival rate of the mice.

“Our study demonstrates the therapeutic potential of using engineered tumor cells and their self-homing properties for developing receptor-targeted therapeutics for various cancers,” Shah said, according to EurekAlert.

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