Washington, Feb 27 : In a revolutionary advancement, scientists at Yale University have created artificial 'cells' that can boost a patient's ability to fight cancer and infectious diseases.
The artificial cells, developed by Tarek Fahmy, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Yale and his graduate student Erin Steenblock, are made of a material commonly used for biodegradable sutures.
With the help of artificial cell-like particles, scientists have been able to devise a fast and competent way to produce a 45-fold enhancement of T cell activation and expansion.
In the new system, the outer surface of each particle is covered in universal adaptor molecules that serve as attachment points for antigens, molecules that activate the patient's T-cells to recognize and fight off the targeted disease.
Inside of each particle, there are slowly released cytokines that further stimulate the activated T-cells to proliferate to as much as 45 times their original number.
"Our process introduces several important improvements," said Steenblock.
"First, the universal surface adaptors allow us to add a span of targeting antigen and co-stimulatory molecules. We can also create a sustained release of encapsulated cytokines. These enhancements mimic the natural binding and signaling events that lead to T-cell proliferation in the body.
It also causes a fast and effective stimulation of the patient's T-cells - particularly T-cells of the cytotoxic type important for eradicating cancer."
Tarek Fahmy revealed that materials used are natural, biodegradable already have FDA approval.
"Safe and efficient T-cell stimulation and proliferation in response to specific antigens is a goal of immunotherapy against infectious disease and cancer," said Fahmy.
"Our ability to manipulate this response so rapidly and naturally with an "off the shelf" reproducible biomaterial is a big step forward.
"This procedure is likely to make it to the clinic rapidly," he added.
The report appears online in Molecular Therapy.