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Researchers led by BME Assistant Professor Yevgeny Brudno have developed an implantable biotechnology that produces and releases CAR-T cells for attacking cancerous tumors. In a proof-of-concept study involving lymphoma in mice, the researchers found that treatment with the implants was faster and more effective than conventional CAR-T cell cancer treatment.

While CAR-T cells are already in clinical use for treating lymphomas, these treatments are very expensive, and the manufacturing process is time-consuming. To tackle these challenges, Brudno Lab created the biotechnology called “Multifunctional Alginate Scaffolds for T cell Engineering and Release (MASTER),” in partnership with Gianpietro Dotti, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and co-leader of the Immunology Program at the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC; and Frances Ligler, former BME Distinguished Professor, now working at Texas A&M University.

“Our MASTER technology takes the cumbersome and time-consuming activation, reprogramming and expansion steps and performs them inside the patient,” says Pritha Agarwalla, lead author of the study and BME postdoc who has recently been promoted to Assistant Research Professor. “The end result is that the mice that received CAR-T cell treatment via MASTER were far better at fighting off tumors than mice that received conventional CAR-T cell treatment.”

The improvement in anti-cancer efficacy was especially pronounced over the long term, when mice were faced with a recurrence of lymphoma. “We’re working with an industry partner to commercialize the technology, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before it becomes clinically available. Further work to establish the safety and robustness of this technology in animal models will be necessary before we can begin exploring clinical trials involving human patients.” Dr Brudno claims. Their paper “Bioinstructive Implantable Scaffolds for Rapid In Vivo Manufacture and Release of CAR-T Cells” is published in Nature Biotechnology here. To read the full article, visit the NC State News website here.

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