Designing an Implantable Scaffold To Capture Cancer Cells and Personalize Treatment Interview with:

Grace G. Bushnell PhD candidate Department of Biomedical Engineering University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan

Grace Bushnell

Grace G. Bushnell PhD candidate
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study builds off of previous work from the Shea and Jeruss laboratories at the University of Michigan, which reported that implanted scaffolds can capture early metastatic cells in vivo prior to the colonization of other organs and serve as a platform for early detection of metastatic disease. Furthermore, the presence of a scaffold reduced the tumor burden in other metastatic locations.

In this work, the major finding was that early detection using a scaffold combined with a therapeutic intervention led to a survival advantage relative to mice that did not receive a scaffold. The scaffolds had been designed to persist in vivo for longer periods of time than in the original study. Additionally, the scaffold was implanted prior to the inoculation of metastatic cancer cells in the mouse. The role of the immune system in the process was further refined, as the immune cell composition at the scaffold changed significantly after disease initiation. These studies demonstrate that early intervention in a metastatic setting can lead to enhanced survival. This principle of early intervention is well established for the primary tumor, and these studies suggest that this principle may be extended to metastatic disease. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This system provides a new platform for early detection and treatment, but is not a cure for metastatic cancer. The goal of these studies is to create a platform to detect metastasis at a time point where intervention and therapy can still be effective. Additionally, the scaffold provides a platform from which the tumor cells and microenvironments that are permissive and attractive to metastasis can be studied and manipulated in vivo. The ultimate goal of this research would be not only to detect metastasis at it’s earliest stages, but to also take the tumor cells and immune cells present in the scaffold and develop a personalized treatment plan most likely to be effective for that patient. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study underscores the importance of the immune system in metastasis and exploits the foreign body response to a material to recruit tumor cells. There are still many unknowns regarding the formation of microenvironments that are permissive and attractive to metastatic cancer cells.

Future work for this study involves 3 components:

i) using the implant as a tool to understand the biological signals that govern the recruitment of metastatic cancer cells to a niche and allow them to form a metastatic lesion,

ii) applying the implants to other forms of cancer,

iii) translating this technology to a patient. This combination of investigating the mechanisms and translating to a patient setting may ultimately enable the development of early detection systems and therapeutic strategies based on the properties of the niche. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Enhanced Survival with Implantable Scaffolds That Capture Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells In Vivo

Shreyas S. Rao, Grace G. Bushnell, Samira M. Azarin, Graham Spicer, Brian A. Aguado, Jenna R. Stoehr, Eric J. Jiang, Vadim Backman, Lonnie D. Shea and Jacqueline S. Jeruss
DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-2106 Published 15 September 2016

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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