Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The "Cyberwar" Against Cancer Gets a Boost from Intelligent Nanocarriers

08.10.2014

TAU researcher advances novel strategy to fight cancer by shoring up the immune system

Two years ago, Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy and Rice University's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics made the startling discovery that cancer, like an enemy hacker in cyberspace, targets the body's communication network to inflict widespread damage on the entire system. Cancer, he found, possessed special traits for cooperative behavior and used intricate communication to distribute tasks, share resources, and make decisions.

In research published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Prof. Ben-Jacob and researchers from Rice University and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the leading cancer treatment center in the U.S., offer new insight into the lethal interaction between cancer cells and the immune system's communications network. Prof. Ben-Jacob and the study co-authors developed a computer program that models a specific channel of cell-to-cell communication involving exosomes (nanocarriers with crucial cellular "intelligence") that both cancer and immune cells harness to communicate with other cells.

"Recent research has found that cancer is already adept at using a kind of 'cyberwarfare' against the immune system. We studied the interplay between cancer and the immune system to see how we might be able to shift the balance against cancer," said Prof. Ben-Jacob, noting a difference between the innate and the adaptive qualities of the immune system. "In the beginning, cancer is inhibited by the body's innate immunity. But once cancer escapes the immunity, there is a race between the progression of cancer and the ability of the adaptive immune system to recognize and act against it." 

Cyberwarfare of the body

"What we are dealing with is cyberwarfare, pure and simple. Cancer uses the immune systems' own communications network to attack not the soldiers but the generals that are coordinating the body's defense," said Prof. Ben-Jacob.

To better understand the role of exosome-mediated cell-to-cell communication in the battle between cancer and the immune system, the researchers created a computer model that captured the exosomal exchange between cancer cells, dendritic cells, and the other cells in the immune system.

The new model is based on earlier research, which showed that dendritic cells, mediators between the body's innate and adaptive immune systems (the former protects against all threats at all times and the latter guards more efficiently against specific, established dangers), employed exosomes to fulfil their task. The researchers discovered that, overtaken by cancer, these nanocarriers, which contain such vital components as signaling proteins, RNA snippets, and microRNAs, can command cells to change their tasks, placing the entire system at risk.

Finding a better balance between the strong and the weak

According to the new research, three possible cancer states can exist: strong, intermediary, and weak. The intermediary state — in which cancer is neither strong nor weak and in which the immune system is on high alert — could be the key to a new therapeutic approach with reduced side effects. Prof. Ben-Jacob believes it is possible to force cancer from a strong to moderate state, and then from a moderate to weak state, by alternating cycles of radiation or chemotherapy with immune-boosting treatments.

"Our first important discovery is that this situation is due to the exosome-based cyberwar between cancer and the immune system," said Prof. Ben-Jacob. "Without exosomes, the two possible states are only strong-weak and weak-strong. With exosomes, an intermediary state opens a new way to treat cancer using very a different approach."

Prof. Ben-Jacob likened the exchange to a tug-of-war between cancer and the immune system. "The challenge is to be familiar with the battlefield so that we can manipulate cancer therapies to change the balance in favor of the immune system. When cancer is detected, it is almost always in the context of a cancer-immunity competition," said Prof. Ben-Jacob. "We showed that the way to stop and reverse tumor progression without causing strong side effects is an individualized approach of mixed treatments — i.e., four days of radiation followed by a few days of immune system boosting, followed again by four days of radiation, and so on. If provided in the right order, the treatments could indeed shift the balance toward the immune system's 'victory' in reducing the cancer to the moderate-strong state."

The study was supported by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the National Science Foundation, and the Tauber Family Funds.

George Hunka | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.aftau.org/weblog-medicine--health?=&storyid4704=2114&ncs4704=3

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Programming cells with computer-like logic

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period

27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>