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The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

Fewer Needles, More STING

scanning electron microscopy image of microparticle bases

Scanning electron microscopy image of microfabricated particles, ready to be loaded with a STING-based cancer immunotherapy. Credit: Xueguang Lu and Zachary Tochka

A programmable microparticle developed by Langer Lab researchers could make STING-based cancer therapies easier for patients to complete. These immunotherapies (which activate the critical 'stimulator of interferon genes' pathway to boost immune response) produce strong antitumor effects, but must be injected directly into the tumor repeatedly over months, increasing risk for metastasis, chronic injection pain, and infection. The single-injection microparticles release scheduled doses of a STING-based therapy over days and weeks.

In a study appearing in Science Translational Medicine and supported in part by a Ludwig Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Misrock Postdoctoral Fellowship, researchers found the microparticles to be as effective against tumors as multiple injections in mouse models of melanoma and breast cancer, with a reduced chance of metastasis. The study also suggests that the microparticles could deliver STING-based therapies to hard-to-reach tumors.