The new technique was published yesterday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The body’s immune system is normally used to combat tumours by Next-generation cancer fighting therapies on the market today. The experimental technology like CRISPR gene-editing does the same. But the new nanotech has a different target: The cells that actually help cancer metastasize and spread throughout the body.
New particle kills cells
These immune cells, meant to ward off infections, create structures called neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) to help fight bacteria. But NETs can actually help spread the cancer by creating tissue openings that cancerous cells can exploit, study co-author Mikala Egeblad explained.
So the researchers created a new particle coated with a special enzyme that can kill these cells before the cancer can use them to metastasize. The results were modest, but promising: Three out of the nine mice given the nanoparticle showed no evidence of breast cancer progression, while all mice in the control group all got worse.
Still, there are important questions about how effective such a technique might be in humans. NETs are meant to combat bacteria, after all, and destroying them might make cancer patients whose immune systems are already compromised even more vulnerable to infection.