The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine demonstrated the potential of a CAR-T gel in eliminating residual cancer cells after surgery. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

A preclinical trial from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine demonstrated the potential of a CAR-T gel in eliminating residual cancer cells left over from surgery. 

The creation of the gel could significantly improve the effectiveness of surgery for solid tumors, reducing the margin for cancerous cells to return, according to Fierce Biotech. 

According to the paper published in Science Advances on Jan. 11, researchers mixed a gel designed to prevent bleeding after surgery and CAR-T cells. They then applied the mixed gel to the surgical wounds of 20 mice and found that the all wounds healed, except for one mouse, without significant side effects. 

Based on the study’s success, the researchers are planning a clinical trial in humans with advanced breast cancer. 

“CAR-T cells have potent effects to clear residual tumor after incomplete resection in a variety of preclinical models,” Carl June, director of the Medical School’s Center for Cellular Immunotherapies and the study’s senior author, said in an email to Fierce Biotech.

June’s discoveries build upon a 2021 study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who demonstrated an increased efficacy of CAR-T cell treatment when delivered through a gel base. The UNC experiment yielded tumor removal success in nine out of 14 mice with aggressive brain cancer.

While the UNC scientists created their own fibrin gel base, Penn researchers opted to use Baxter brand’s Tisseel, a fibrin sealant traditionally used to control bleeding in compressed internal spaces.

Though pancreatic and breast cancers are of particular interest to the team due to their high likelihood of tumor reemergence, the researchers hope that the impact of their findings are even more far-reaching.

“This study demonstrates the promise of CAR-T as an add-on to surgery for solid tumors,” June said in a Penn Medicine news release. “We also think that this approach could be broadened to deliver other cellular therapies and anticancer agents in addition to CAR-T cells, potentially boosting the antitumor effectiveness even further.”