Research highlight

A capsule for glioma therapeutics

Nature Neuroscience

December 26, 2011

Packaging therapeutic stem cells with a biomaterial wrap improves their efficiency for brain cancer treatment, reports a paper published online this week in Nature Neuroscience. This study highlights the potential of a promising bioengineering strategy for glioma treatment, which may help guide future clinical trials. Glioma is a common form of brain cancer that occurs when glial cells in the brain become malignant. Current treatments for gliomas are based on a combination of surgical intervention along with radio- and chemotherapies, but their outcome remains poor. Using a mouse model of glioma, Khalid Shah and his colleagues remove the malignant mass, mimicking the surgical interventions common in glioma patients. They then implant neural stem cells that were genetically engineered to produce a tumor-selective killing agent in the resulting cavity. To improve their efficiency, Shah and colleagues packaged these engineered stem cells with a biomaterial called synthetic extracellular matrix to increase their survival and stability in brain tissue. Implanting such encapsulated stem cells led to a substantial increase in the lifespan of the sick mice compared to those receiving the non-encapsulated treatment.

doi: 10.1038/nn.3019

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