From: ETH Zurich
Published November 13, 2017 12:12 PM

Engineering Non-Immune Cells to Kill Cancer Cells

T-cells are one of the immune system’s major weapons. They detect the body’s cells infected with a virus and trigger their ablation, effectively killing the virus. T-cells cannot do the same with cancer cells, however, as they do not recognise them as foreign cells and are therefore unable to eliminate them.

But researchers have recently used T-cells engineered in the laboratory to combat tumours. Modified to include additional functions, these immune cells can hunt down and kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, however, such immune cell therapies can have significant side-effects. On top of that, the production of modified T-cells is technically challenging.

Now a team of researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger from the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel has come up with an innovative and simplified approach for producing therapeutically effective synthetic designer cells to combat cancer. The researchers have built three additional components into human renal cells and (adipose) stem cells, thereby transforming them into synthetic designer cells that mimic T-cells.

Read more at ETH Zurich

Image: The artificial T-cell recognises a tumour cell and docks to it. In the process, antenna proteins bend, which triggers a chain reaction. This leads to the killing of the tumor cell. (Credit: ETH Zurich)

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