Bioactive sponge to eliminate normally fatal tumors

Bioactive sponge to eliminate normally fatal tumors

News and Articles
Dec 2 2009

InCytu Incorporated, a therapeutic device engineering company, announced the details of its Cellarium™ Cancer Vaccine program. Cellarium™ is a small bioactive sponge which regulates dendritic cells and T-cells to eliminate normally fatal tumors in a preclinical model of late stage melanoma. The details of such a promising new vaccine were published for the first time in Science’s Translational Medicine Journal.

“This small sponge disk is amazingly powerful,” says Alfred Vasconcellos, InCytu’s CEO as he holds up a slim, tan-colored button, 8.5 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick. “This Cellarium speaks the language of the immune system and, when placed under the skin, is capable of alerting the immune system that the tumor needs to be destroyed.”

In the Science Translational Medicine article, co-authors Drs. Omar Ali (InCytu Inc.), Dwaine Emerich (InCytu Inc.), Glenn Dranoff (Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School), and David Mooney (Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), describe how the implantable cancer vaccine has caused the complete regression of established tumors and how this efficacy is in contrast to past approaches to cancer vaccines.

Once implanted just under the skin, the Cellarium sponge disk releases a cytokine, a protein that recruits dendritic cells, the body’s powerful immune-system messenger. These dendritic cells travel through the pores of the polymer sponge where they are exposed to antigens specific to the tumor and learn that these antigens identify the target that should be attacked by the immune system. The dendritic cells then report to nearby lymph nodes where they direct the immune system’s T cells to hunt down and kill tumor cells. Later, once its job is done, the slender implant just dissolves over time much like resorbable sutures.

“The challenge with many cancers is killing the cancer cells without damaging the patient’s normal cells,” offered Dr. Dwaine Emerich, article co-author and InCytu’s Chief Scientific Officer. “With the Cellarium, the immune system is trained to specifically target the tumor cells which need to be destroyed. This is an excellent example of personalized medicine.”

InCytu’s platform technology enables a vaccination strategy that can regulate the dendritic cell network in the body. By varying the combination of chemical signals within the polymer implant, InCytu can control the recruitment of multiple dendritic cell populations. This is important because formulations that only recruited the one type of dendritic cell commonly used in other cancer vaccines were found to be relatively ineffective at inducing anti-tumor immunity and did not enable tumor regression.

In contrast, Cellarium implants, formulated to recruit and activate several types of dendritic cells as an interactive network, were associated with potent and destructive T cell responses and simultaneous down-regulation of immune tolerance that can interfere with vaccine activity. These formulations that controlled a heterogenous DC network were able to cause the complete regression of solid tumors.

“The success of this approach is the result of combining engineering principles with an understanding of immunology and strong research collaborations,” confides Dr. Omar Ali, InCytu Scientist and co-inventor of the technology. “We have enabled a major step towards the design of effective cancer vaccines.”

SOURCE InCytu Incorporated


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