To grow and spread, cancer cells must evade the immune system. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT used the power of nanotechnology to discover a new way that cancer can disarm its would-be cellular attackers by extending out nanoscale tentacles that can reach into an immune cell and pull out its powerpack. Slurping out the immune cell’s mitochondria powers up the cancer cell and depletes the immune cell. The new findings, published in Nature Nanotechnology, could lead to new targets for developing the next generation of immunotherapy against cancer.
“Cancer kills when the immune system is suppressed and cancer cells are able to metastasize, and it appears that nanotubes can help them do both,” said corresponding author Shiladitya Sengupta, PhD, co-director of the Brigham’s Center for Engineered Therapeutics. “This is a completely new mechanism by which cancer cells evade the immune system and it gives us a new target to go after.”
To investigate how cancer cells and immune cells interact at the nanoscale level, Sengupta and colleagues set up experiments in which they co-cultured breast cancer cells and immune cells, such as T cells.
— Bioengineer.org (@bioengineerorg) November 18, 2021