Biodegradable plastics have played a leading role in the first successful elimination of tumors in mammals.
According to a report in the newest issue of Science Translational Medicine journal, bioengineers and immunologists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. recently used fingernail-sized plastic disks impregnated with a cancer vaccine to kill tumors in laboratory mice. The vaccine inside the disks reprogrammed the mice’s immune systems to attack the tumors, the report said.
The slender implants developed by the group measure 8.5 millimeters in diameter and are made of an FDA-approved biodegradable polymer. Ninety percent air, the disks are highly permeable to immune cells and release so-called cytokines, powerful recruiters of immune-system messengers called dendritic cells.