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New ‘Drug Factory’ Implant Eliminates Mesothelioma in Mice

New ‘Drug Factory’ Implant Eliminates Mesothelioma in Mice

A new ‘drug factory’ implant has eliminated advanced-stage mesothelioma tumors in mice. The treatment is effective in just a few days. It works by combining a “drug factory” implant with a checkpoint inhibitor drug.

The news comes from researchers at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine. The treatment worked in 100% of the animals treated. And it shows amazing hope for the future of mesothelioma.

How the Treatment Works

The treatment uses tiny drug-producing beads no larger than the tip of a needle. The beads go to work next to the mesothelioma tumor. Here, they work to produce continuous, high doses of interleukin-2 (IL-2). IL-2 is a natural compound that triggers white blood cells to fight cancer.

The study was published in Clinical Cancer Research. It is the latest in a series of successes for this ‘drug-factory’ invention. This technology was invented in the lab of bioengineer Omid Veiseh. They recently received FDA approval to begin clinical trials.

These tiny cytokine factories are made up of alginate beads. Each bead is loaded with thousands of genetically engineered cells that produce IL-2. This is one of two cytokines that the FDA has approved for cancer treatment.

The ‘drug factories’ are extremely small. They can be placed with minimally invasive surgery. This is welcome news to mesothelioma patients. The treatment is designed to deliver high doses of IL-2 directly to cancer tumors. In the mesothelioma study, the beads were implanted directly onto the pleura.

This treatment approach had great success first in ovarian cancer. This is the first time it has been applied in mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is the asbestos-caused cancer.

Immunotherapy treatment has been successful in treating mesothelioma with drugs called checkpoint inhibitors. Checkpoint inhibitors do not kill cancer directly. They work by teaching the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

They tested the ‘drug factory’ by themselves and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors. They found the ‘drug factory’ implant alone eliminated tumors in 50% of the treated animals. Tumors were eliminated in 100% of the animals with both the implant and checkpoint inhibitors.


Nash, Amanda M., Samira Aghlara-Fotovat, Bertha Castillio, Andrea Hernandez, Aarthi Pugazenthi, Hyun-Sung Lee, Hee-Jin Jang et al. “Activation of adaptive and innate immune cells via localized Interleukin-2 cytokine factories eradicates mesothelioma tumors.” Clinical Cancer Research: an Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (2022): CCR-22. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-22-1493

‘Drug factory’ implants eliminate mesothelioma tumors in mice. Rice News | News and Media Relations | Rice University. Accessed September 12, 2022. https://news.rice.edu/news/2022/drug-factory-implants-eliminate-mesothelioma-tumors-mice


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