Wood, bamboo and other plant-derived materials are widely used to provide structural integrity for buildings. It turns out that plant-derived scaffolds can also be used, on a much smaller scale, to support the culture of cells grown in 3D. Importantly, as well as providing structure, plant structures can provide vasculature, on a similar scale to our own, enabling nutrients and signalling molecules to be carried to cells that are distant from the surface.
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Recombinant cytokines and other growth factors underpin cell culture and are as important to biotechnology as semi-conductors are to information technology. They also provide a source of cell-based assay variability. Understanding cytokine dynamics is important to the design of better cell-based assays and manufacturing systems.
Acute pancreatitis (AP) is a sudden and severe inflammation of the pancreas sometimes caused by gallstones. In the most severe cases, AP can also lead to injury of the lung. The pathway from pancreatic disease to lung injury is anything but direct and a fundamental role for exosomes has emerged.
In the 1890s, William Coley (pictured) pioneered techniques that boost immune activity against cancer by injecting pathogens into cancer patients to stimulate their immune system. The modern emergence of onco-immunotherapy began with the therapeutic development of cytokines. These messenger proteins modulate both innate and adaptive immunity. Although they have been overshadowed by checkpoint inhibitors for the last decade, there is renewed interest in targeting and harnessing cytokines for cancer immunotherapy.
Mucosal surfaces are the primary interface between an individual and pathogens and are particularly vulnerable to infection. Yet, they also come into regular contact with a host of antigens that need to be tolerated. To allow tolerance and deal with a constant threat of infection, a dynamic and complex array of immune mechanisms provide a finely calibrated first response to these invasive microbial threats.
More than any other disease, the complexity of cancer has frustrated the development of effective therapeutics. The varying and evolving landscape of genetic changes between and within tumors and the complex interaction of the cancer cells with the immune system make this disease extremely difficult to simulate. A range of models now exists that better replicate cancers complexity.
Cancer drug candidates sometimes emerge with exceptional promise but ultimately fall short. In the late 1990s, endostatin gained huge prominence and was widely viewed as an exceptional cancer drug candidate. But things didnâ€™t quite work out. Although endostatin is now approved by the FDA, in the West it is largely forgotten, eclipsed by newer treatments. But look East, notably to China, and endostatin is very much at the forefront of cancer therapy, particularly in combination with chemotherapy. Why have its fortunes varied geographically and will it ever make a global impact?
Inflammation is critical for maintaining health, but, paradoxically, can also generate disease: Chronic inflammation is strongly associated with the development of cancer and is also a key driver of the ageing process. In addition, auto-immune diseases, of which there are very many, are debilitating and can lead to high rates of morbidity and mortality. Drugs that are able to specifically target the damaging aspects inflammatory responses whilst leaving critical functions intact can be hugely successful.