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Attack of the Killer T-Cells

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A new study in Nature Medicine showcases the work of MIT researchers, who are working on ways of using the body's own immune system T-cells as delivery vehicles for cancer drugs, says New Scientist's Ferris Jabr. T-cells attack tumors, but to fight them off, many tumors emit a chemical cocktail to weaken the T-cells and keep them away. MIT researchers found they could attach 100 nanoparticle capsules to a single T-cell without impairing its function, Jabr says. They can then fill the capsules with any number of drugs. When the team filled the capsules with interleukins, attached them to the T-cells, and injected them into mice with bone and lung cancer, the T-cells not only "swarmed" over the tumors, but kept attacking for far longer than normal T-cells do, Jabr says. In addition, mice injected with normal T-cells died within 30 days, while mice injected with the beefed up T-cells survived and improved during the same time frame. Massive doses of interleukins throughout the body have been shown to be toxic to patients, Jabr says, but the MIT researchers believe they've found a way to focus the interleukins' action, making them more effective and less toxic.

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