Engineering immune T cells could sustain new cancer treatments

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Engineered immune cells used in new cancer therapies can overcome physical barriers to allow a patient’s own immune system to fight tumors – was suggested in a study by medical researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. The research could improve cancer therapies. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps the patient’s immune system fight cancer. In this first-of-its-kind study, the researchers are working to engineer the T cells and develop engineering design criteria to mechanically optimize the cells or make them more “fit” to overcome the barriers like solid tumors. “This study is our first publication where we have identified some structural and signaling elements where we can tune these T cells to make them more effective cancer fighters,” said Provenzano, a researcher in the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center.

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„After engineering these immune cells, we found that they moved through the tumor almost twice as fast no matter what obstacles were in their way,” he added. The researchers are currently studying engineered immune cells in rodents and in the future are planning clinical trials in humans. The research was funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and University of Minnesota Physical Sciences in Oncology Center, which receives funding from NIH’s National Cancer Institute.