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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Cancer-killing hydrogel stays in place until the job is done

• By Michael Irving

The trick is to give it a boost to find and destroy those rogue cells, and that's the focus of the field of immunotherapy. To that end, a new hydrogel has been developed that can be injected directly to the site of a tumor, where it stays to slowly release its payload of immunotherapy drugs for longer.

Put the two into a ring, and the immune system will win every round against cancer. To give itself a fighting chance, the Big C instead focuses its attention on stealth attacks, using a variety of tactics to evade detection by the immune system until it can grow strong enough to overwhelm the body.

Immunotherapy aims to swing the odds back into our favor, re-arming the immune system with new ways to detect and kill cancer cells. These techniques mainly involve extracting a sample of a patient's T cells, genetically engineering them to attack tumors, and returning them to the body. Others may be able to stimulate the system with a single injection, akin to a cancer vaccine.

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