Gel enhances CAR T benefits in brains surgically treated for glioblastoma

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

According to researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, pairing a newly developed gel with immunotherapy that was delivered to post-surgical mouse brains with glioblastoma improved the immunotherapy’s effectiveness.

These findings appeared Oct. 6, 2021 in Science Advances. 

In this mouse study, the CAR T-cell gel was placed to fill in the area where a glioblastoma tumor had just been surgically removed. Previous studies have shown that administering T cells alone produces limited benefit.

“We developed a gel made of fibrin, a protein most often associated with helping blood to clot. Applying a gel substance to an area of the brain to aid CAR T-cell therapy is unique in glioblastoma treatment,” Edikan Ogunnaike, a biomedical engineer at UNC and first author of the article, said in a statement. “The gel aided CAR T-cell distribution in the brain by acclimating the T cells to the post-surgical wound environment while also stopping the tumor from recurring.”

The researchers used concentrations of human fibrinogen, a protein produced by the liver, which was transformed to fibrin with enzymes to develop a porous gel that was mixed with CAR T cells and placed in the post-surgical brain area. 

The gel created web-like fibrin scaffolds in the brain, in which the CAR T cells uniformly enmeshed themselves into the pores of scaffolds. The scaffolds are biodegradable and do not cause inflammation, tissue death, or scarring.

Nine of 14 (64%) mice that received the gel and T cells were tumor free 94 days after treatment, compared to two of 10 (20%) mice who only received T cells. The researchers said if these findings can be replicated in human studies—they caution that many early laboratory findings don’t lead to clinical studies or new therapies—it would result in a great improvement in current treatment rates.

The investigators are currently looking at injecting CAR T cells to other parts of the brain. The process is being tested in pilot clinical studies to assess safety as well as to see if it elicits a greater distribution of CAR T cells.

“The gel might also allow for local delivery of other biological agents that could sustain T cell growth and counter suppression of an immunotherapy,” Ogunnaike said.

Table of Contents