Eat them up: Next-generation therapeutic helps immune cells detect, destroy cancer
Macrophages — immune cells that engulf and digest particles and pathogens — provide the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses and can also help destroy cancer cells. Macrophages play a paradoxical role, with M1 macrophages rousing the immune system to action and M2 macrophages quelling inflammation. Researchers have found that cancer cells evade destruction by macrophages in two ways — by converting cells to become docile, M2 macrophages, and by sending out an “eat me not” signal that tricks M1 macrophages into letting them be. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a therapeutic that delivers a double whammy to knock out both mechanisms. In preclinical models, the new approach has yielded promising results.
The researchers plan to continue testing the new therapy in preclinical models to evaluate safety, efficacy, and dosage. The supramolecular therapy they have designed has been licensed and they hope to move the therapeutic into clinical trials in the years ahead should preclinical testing continue to show promise.