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A recent publication in Science Advances by BME Postdoc Edikan Ogunnaike reports the improvement of immunotherapy’s effectiveness by pairing a newly developed gel with immunotherapy that was delivered to post-surgical mouse brains with glioblastoma, a highly malignant and deadly cancer. Nine of 14 mice (64%) that received the gel and T cells were tumor free 94 days after treatment, compared to two of 10 (20%) mice who only received T cells. The researchers said if these findings can be replicated in human studies it would result in a great improvement in current treatment rates.

CAR-T cell (chimeric antigen receptor-T cell) immunotherapy involves harvesting immune-system T cells from a patient and genetically re-engineering them in the lab to recognize targets on the surface of cancer cells. In this mouse study, the CAR-T cells and gel were placed to fill in the area where a glioblastoma tumor had just been surgically removed. “We developed a gel made of fibrin, a protein most often associated with helping blood to clot. Applying a gel substance to an area of the brain to aid CAR-T cell therapy is unique in glioblastoma treatment,” said Dr. Ogunnaike, who currently works under the guidance of BME Distinguished Professor Fran Ligler and UNC School of Medicine Professor Gianpietro Dotti, who is also co-leader of the Immunology Program at UNC Lineberger. 

“Our approach was beneficial in glioblastoma and we believe that it could also control growth or return of tumors in the brain, eye and other organs,” said Professor Dotti, corresponding author of the article “Fibrin gel enhances the antitumor effects of chimeric antigen receptor T cells in glioblastoma.” To read the full publication, go to Science Advances website here. You can read the announcement on UNC School of Medicine News website here.

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