Thursday July 18, 2019

Chinese Scientists Develop Combined Tumor-Killing Therapy

The Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University developed a common immune checkpoint inhibitor in a nanoparticle formulation

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Chinese, Scientists, Tumor
The study published on Friday in the journal Science Immunology described the new cancer immunotherapy that can prevent the immune system from becoming tolerant of tumors. Pixabay

Chinese scientists developed a combined tumor-killing therapy that can be activated specifically at tumor sites in mouse models of cancer, which is more effective than previous similar therapies.

The study published on Friday in the journal Science Immunology described the new cancer immunotherapy that can prevent the immune system from becoming tolerant of tumors, which occurs in 30 per cent of all cancer patients, the Xinhua news agency reported.

A team led by Wang Dangge from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University developed a common immune checkpoint inhibitor in a nanoparticle formulation, which is highly tumor-specific.

The checkpoint inhibitor is a kind of increasingly popular anti-tumor drug. It can block proteins that keep immune T cells from killing cancer. But the checkpoint inhibitor used to target those immune system-suppressing proteins like PD-1 and PD-L1 often fails to reach deep-seated or metastatic tumors.

Chinese, Scientists, Tumor
Chinese scientists developed a combined tumor-killing therapy that can be activated specifically at tumor sites in mouse models of cancer, Pixabay

Wang’s team combined the nanoparticles carrying PD-L1-targeting antibodies with a light-activated molecule. The molecule called photosensitiser can produce tumor-killing reactive oxygen species after encountering a protein abundant in tumors, according to the study.

In mouse models, a local near-infrared radiation that activated the photosensitiser, along with the administration of antibodies-carrying nanoparticles, promoted the infiltration of cancer cell-killing T cells into the tumor site and made the tumors more sensitive to the checkpoint blockade.

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This combination also helped the nanoparticles effectively suppress tumor growth and metastasis to the lung and lymph nodes, resulting in approximately 80 per cent mouse survival over 70 days, compared to complete mouse death in 45 days in the group treated with only PD-L1 antibodies, according to the study. (IANS)

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Amount of Ice Circling Antarctica Plunges from Record High to Record Lows

Floating ice off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014

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Ice, Antarctic, Scientists
FILE - An iceberg floats in Andvord Bay, Antarctica, Feb. 14, 2018. VOA

The amount of ice circling Antarctica is suddenly plunging from a record high to record lows, baffling scientists.

Floating ice off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014. But three years later, the annual average extent of Antarctic sea ice hit its lowest mark, wiping out three-and-a-half decades of gains — and then some, a NASA study of satellite data shows.

In recent years, “things have been crazy,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. In an email, he called the plummeting ice levels “a white-knuckle ride.”

Serreze and other outside experts said they don’t know if this is a natural blip that will go away or more long-term global warming that is finally catching up with the South Pole. Antarctica hasn’t showed as much consistent warming as its northern Arctic cousin.

Ice, Antarctic, Scientists
The amount of ice circling Antarctica is suddenly plunging from a record high to record lows, baffling scientists. Pixabay

“But the fact that a change this big can happen in such a short time should be viewed as an indication that the Earth has the potential for significant and rapid change,” University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati said in an email.

At the polar regions, ice levels grow during the winter and shrink in the summer. Around Antarctica, sea ice averaged 4.9 million square miles (12.8 million square kilometers) in 2014. By 2017, it was a record low of 4.1 million square miles (10.7 million square kilometers, according to the study in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The difference covers an area bigger than the size of Mexico. Losing that much in just three years “is pretty incredible” and faster than anything scientists have seen before, said study author Claire Parkinson, a NASA climate scientist.  Antarctic sea ice increased slightly in 2018, but still was the second lowest since 1979. Even though ice is growing this time of year in Antarctica, levels in May and June this year were the lowest on record, eclipsing 2017, according to the ice data center.

Ice melting on the ocean surface doesn’t change sea level. Non-scientists who reject mainstream climate science often had pointed at increasing Antarctic sea ice to deny or downplay the loss of Arctic sea ice.

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While the Arctic has shown consistent and generally steady warming and ice melt — with some slight year to year variation — Antarctica has had more ups and downs while generally trending upward. That is probably in part due to geography, Parkinson and Serreze said.

The Arctic is a floating ice cap on an ocean penned in by continents. Antarctica is just the opposite, with land surrounded by open ocean. That allows the ice to grow much farther out, Parkinson said.

When Antarctic sea ice was steadily rising, scientists pointed to shifts in wind and pressure patterns, ocean circulation changes or natural but regular climate changes like El Nino and its southern cousins. Now, some of those explanations may not quite fit, making what happens next still a mystery, Parkinson said. (VOA)