A Look at Shocking Advances in Cancer Treatment

(DGIwire) – This is an amazing era for cancer research. In one corner of the arena, a promising new class of cancer treatments recruits the cells in blood to fight tumors, using powerful gene-editing tools to transform a type of white blood cell—called a T cell—from an immune cell that normally targets bacterial or fungal infections into a living cancer drug. According to The Washington Post, these genetic alterations could boost immune systems to successfully fight cancers on their own. Some researchers have utilized electric shocks to get T cells to incorporate the new genetic instructions more easily using cutting-edge technology. For example, the ECM 830 Electroporation System and the AgilePulse MAX™ System—two instruments developed by BTX, a division of Harvard Bioscience—allow researchers to conduct work of this nature.

In a separate but equally “shocking” corner of the cancer arena, researchers are refining and modifying monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs—several of which have already revolutionized the care of breast and colon cancer—and testing them in most tumor types. These modifications allow antibody drugs to directly stimulate the body’s immune response to help fight tumors. More than 10 monoclonal antibodies are currently approved for use in cancer care, according to the American Cancer Society, most of which were approved for use within the last decade.

“State-of-the-art instrumentation is crucial to integrating the potential of mAbs into cancer care,” says Jeff Duchemin, President and CEO of Harvard Bioscience. “A key method for producing large numbers of mAbs involves fusing together two different types of cells using new technology that makes this more advanced than ever before.”

BTX recently unveiled a device with applications in the development of monoclonal antibodies: the ECM 2001+. With this device, a combination of alternating-current and direct-current electric wave pulses are used to allow the rapid fusion of cells that is necessary to create monoclonal antibodies. Not only are the cells aligned properly and then fused together, but the device ensures that this process takes place efficiently and with the maximum number of desired hybrid cells.

Separately, in a process called transfection, the ECM 2001+ can be used to modify cells to produce certain types of human proteins that have various therapeutic uses. In this task, the device is again both efficient and versatile, and can act on a range of cell types including stem cells. The type of electric waves used by the device helps maximize the health and productivity of the resulting cells.

“Whether the laboratory work involves the modification of T cells and stem cells, or the creation of mAb therapeutics, the future of cancer treatment starts with sophisticated tools that can help life science researchers find the next scientific breakthrough,” adds Duchemin.

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