Activating cancer-fighting cells using nanotechnology

Single walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) bundles may provide a nanotech method to activate certain cancer-fighting white blood cells outside a patient’s body in the hope that they will more effectively fight the patient’s cancer upon being returned to the patient. From a Nanowerk Spotlight written by Michael Berger “Nanotechnology enhanced immunotheraphy in the fight against cancer“:

A new study that exploits the unique properties of single-walled CNTs (SWCNT) for biomedical purposes shows the use of SWCNTs as an efficient platform for immunotherapeutic applications. Scientists demonstrate the surface area tunability of SWCNT bundles by chemical treatment and its effect on antibody adsorption and subsequent T cell activation. T cells are central players in initiating and maintaining immune responses. An important goal of successful immunotherapy is the stimulation of T cell immune responses against targets of interest such as tumors.

“We show that antibodies against the T cell CD3 complex (anti-CD3) adsorbed onto SWCNT bundles stimulate cells more effectively than equivalent concentrations of soluble anti-CD3; when immobilized on SWCNT, anti-CD3 can activate T cells at concentrations at least an order of magnitude less than antibody alone” Dr. Tarek Fahmy explains to Nanowerk. “Stimulation by antibody adsorbed onto SWCNT is significantly higher than other high surface area materials (activated carbon, polystyrene, and C60 nanoparticles), suggesting unique properties of SWCNT bundles for stimuli presentation and activation of T cells.”

In contrast to the majority of biomedical applications which use or propose the usage of SWCNTs in vivo — where toxicity becomes an issue — the proposed applications by the Yale scientists uses SWCNTs ex vivo with blood cells derived from the patients blood.

“We find that lymphocytes can be effectively stimulated by SWCNTs,” says Fahmy. “This is important for the field of adoptive immunotherapy which requires efficient activation and proliferation of lymphocytes ex vivo and the generation of large numbers of cells that can be infused back into the patient for efficient immunotherapy. Single walled carbon nanotube bundles can be adopted as a platform for efficient activation of T cells with patient derived blood when combined with antibody stimuli.”

The research was published in Nano Letters [abstract].

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