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New hydrogels for T cell growth as cancer immunotherapy

American scientists have created hydrogels for the cultivation of T cells, which are used in cancer immunotherapy.

Author: Dana Bolysbek

Editor: Merentsova Anastasia


The research team has developed new hydrogels for the cultivation of T cells or T lymphocytes, cells of the immune system that are used in cancer immunotherapy and are capable of destroying tumor cells. These hydrogels can mimic the lymph nodes in which T cells are produced and provide a high rate of cell proliferation (division). Scientists hope to soon bring this new technology to hospitals.


Three-dimensional hydrogels are made from polyethylene glycol (PEG), a biocompatible polymer widely used in biomedicine, and heparin, an anticoagulant. In this case, the polymer provides the structure and mechanical properties required for the growth of T cells, while heparin is used to anchor various biomolecules, such as the cytokine CCL21, a protein found in lymph nodes that plays an important role in cell life.


Cancer immunotherapy relies on using and strengthening the patient's immune system so that it recognizes and fights tumor cells without damaging healthy tissue. One such treatment, adoptive cell therapy, consists of removing T cells from patients, modifying them to make them more active, making multiple copies of them, and injecting them back into patients. The application of this method is limited by existing cell culture media, as they are not efficient enough to proliferate and grow an appropriate number of therapeutic T cells in a short time and in an economical manner.