Protein enhanced white blood cells turn into 'super natural killers' of cancer cells

Protein enhanced white blood cells turn into 'super natural killers' of cancer cellsFollowing their successful technique to eliminate bloodstream metastasis, Cornell biomedical engineers have now developed one to seek and destroy lymph node cancer cells. Eliminating cancer cells from the bloodstream and lymph nodes can totally halt the onset of metastasis or spread of cancer to other parts.

In the latest work on mouse models, they injected a cancer killing protein that attaches itself to white blood cells and turns them into "super natural killer cells". The enhanced white blood cells seek the cancer cells and destroy them.

The lymph nodes play a key role in advancing metastasis throughout the body. Usually in stages II and III, the tumours have likely spread to the lymph nodes. At stage IV, the cancer has advanced from the lymph nodes to organs and other parts of the body.

Nanoparticles of liposomes carrying TRAIL (Tumor necrosis factor Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand) were used by the team to deliver the protein to the lymph nodes.

"In our research, we use nanoparticles - the liposomes we have created with TRAIL protein - and attach them to natural killer cells, to create what we call 'super natural killer cells' and then these completely eliminate lymph node metastases in mice," said Michael R King, the Daljit S and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Biomedical Engineering and senior author of the paper, Super Natural Killer Cells That Target Metastases in the Tumor Draining Lymph Nodes. It was published in Biomaterials.

"Between 29 and 37 percent of patients with breast, colorectal and lung cancers are diagnosed with metastases in their tumor-draining lymph nodes -- those lymph nodes that lie downstream from the tumor, and those patients are at a higher risk for distant-organ metastases and later-stage cancer diagnoses," says a Cornell press release.

In January 2014, King and his colleagues published research that showed that metastasizing cancer cells in the bloodstream were destroyed when the TRAIL protein was attached to white blood cells.

Source: International Business Times
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