A new study has found that a non-surgical injection of “programmable biomaterial” could be able to treat the deadly cancer and also to prevent it along with other serious diseases.
The study was jointly conducted by the Harvard researchers at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, both in Cambridge, MA.
“We can create 3D structures using minimally invasive delivery to enrich and activate a host’s immune cells to target and attack harmful cells in vivo,” said senior study authors David Mooney and Robert P. Pinkas.
Mooney is a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute, while Robert P. Pinkas is a Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard SEAS.
According to the researchers, small biodegradable mesoporous silica rods (MSRs) can be loaded along with chemical and biological drug components and then injected inside the body via needle.
Programmable biomaterials in the rods are capable of unexpectedly gathering into a three-dimensional structure when injected in the body of a living organism.
Researchers explain the rods instantly assemble at the vaccination site in order to form a three dimensional scaffold. The porous spaces present in the MSRs pile are big enough to recruit and fill up with dendritic cells that act as surveillance cells, which minutely monitor the body for any harmful elements and if any such detection is made then the cells trigger an immune response.
Co-lead author Jaeyun Kim, Ph.D, said, “Nano-sized mesoporous silica particles have already been established as useful for manipulating individual cells from the inside, but this is the first time that larger particles, in the micron-sized range, are used to create a 3D in vivo scaffold that can recruit and attract tens of millions of immune cells.”
Kim is a former Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow and presently an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Sungkyunkwan University.
The researchers hope that the 3D vaccines could play a greater role in fighting the cancer disease.