An ultrasound-based system can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells to recognize and kill cancer cells.
Researchers used ultrasound to mechanically perturb T cells and then converted the mechanical signals into genetic control of cells. The team developed an innovative approach to use mechanogenetics, a field of science that focuses on effect of physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues on gene expression for the remote control of gene and cell activations. The study was published on January 15, 2017 in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Remote-controlled mechanogenetics system can engineer chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-expressing T cells that can target and kill cancer cells. The engineered CAR-T cells have mechano-sensors and genetic transducing modules that can be remotely activated by ultrasound via microbubble amplification. “CAR-T cell therapy is becoming a paradigm-shifting therapeutic approach for cancer treatment,” said bioengineering professor Peter Yingxiao Wang at the University of California San Diego. Researchers found that microbubbles conjugated to streptavidin can be coupled to the surface of a cell, where mechanosensitive Piezo1 ion channels are expressed. Upon exposure to ultrasound waves, microbubbles vibrate and mechanically stimulate Piezo1 ion channels to let calcium ions inside the cell. This triggers downstream pathways, including calcineurin activation, NFAT dephosphorylating and translocation into the nucleus.
According to Targeted Cancer Therapies Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, Targeted cancer therapies are drugs which block the growth and proliferation of cancer by interfering with specific molecules. The nucleus-translocated NFAT can bind to upstream response elements of genetic transducing modules to initiate gene expression of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) for the recognition and killing of target cancer cells.