Treating COVID-19 symptoms at home: SoCal doctor explains what you need to know

Treating COVID-19 symptoms at home: SoCal doctor explains what you need to know

  • January 19, 2021
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Once you test positive for COVID-19, what should you do next? Doctors say staying on top of any changes in your symptoms and taking the proper precautions is a good start, but doctors who have been treating patients’ recovery at home say there are other things you can do to boost your immune system.

Shortly before Christmas, 43-year-old Juliana Shain of Simi Valley tested positive for COVID-19. Five days later, the same would happen to her fiancé.

“I felt like I had been beaten up. I felt really hungover,” she said. “We had aches and pains then a cough and then sneezing. Really at the end of it, we had difficulty breathing.”

Fear of being hospitalized soon set in. Internal medicine specialist Dr. Aamir Iqbal with Agoura Family Practice says he’s been getting several calls a day from frantic patients.

“When you’ve tested positive it’s a big moment. A lot of people get very scared and nervous about what’s going to happen,” he said. “What do I do? Or my husband tested positive or my spouse tested positive or my kid tested positive and now I live with them.”

Iqbal’s first suggestion is to buy an over the counter pulse oximeter.

“It’s a little device that attaches to your finger and right on top of the screen it has a percentage,” he said. “When you get below 94% that starts throwing up some flags. And any number under 90% is a big red flag.”

He suggests hydrating with beverages such as Pedialyte or Gatorade. Shain’s doctor told her to take a cocktail of supplements.

“The doctor gave us a bunch of vitamins,” she said. Shain started taking Vitamin C, B12, D3 and zinc.

“Some of these home remedies can actually help. We know they can’t hurt you,” Iqbal said.

He also suggested over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen, mucus thinners and a baby aspirin to prevent blood clots.

“While the baby aspirin doesn’t equivalent to a full blood thinner medication, it can give you some protection,” Iqbal said.

Studies show sleeping on your stomach helps get more oxygen to your lungs. Iqbal said if its comfortable try it, but he tells his patients it’s not a requirement.

Some advice online includes waking up every two hours to get your blood circulating. To that Iqbal said quality sleep is much more important As for eating more bananas, avocados or asparagus, he said good nutrition is important but food alone can’t stop worsening symptoms.

A month after her infection, Shain is back at work

“I feel exhausted, and I still have some brain fog,” she said.

She hasn’t mustered enough energy to take down her Christmas decorations and Shain had to postpone her wedding day. But, she’s grateful to be on the mend.

“Just be kind to yourself. Take it one day at a time and you’ll get through it,” she said.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19 -- ScienceDaily

Understanding how to improve antibodies targeting OX40 for the treatment of cancer — ScienceDaily

  • January 13, 2021

Scientists at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology have gained new insight into how the immune system can be better used to find and kill cancer cells.

Working with BioInvent International, a team led by Professor Mark Cragg and Dr Jane Willoughby from the Antibody and Vaccine Group, based at the Centre, have shown that antibodies, designed to target the molecule OX40, give a more active immune response when they bind closer to the cell membrane and can be modified to attack cancer in different ways.

OX40 is a ‘co-receptor’ that helps to stimulate the production of helper and killer T-cells during an immune response. One of the ways cancer avoids detection is by suppressing immune responses to stop functional tumour specific T-cells from being produced.

In the study, which has been published in Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, the team also discovered that switching the antibody’s isotype (the part of the antibody that engages with cells of the immune system) could change the way the antibody worked.

When the mIgG2a isotype was used, the antibody could delete cells called Treg cells which are suppressive in the immune system. When the mIgG1 isotype was present, the antibody could stimulate killer T-cells to increase and therefore kill more cancer cells.

Professor Cragg said: “Clinical trials with anti-OX40 antibodies have shown that the body can tolerate these drugs but unfortunately have also shown disappointing clinical responses. We need to understand why this is.

“This new data shows us that when there is a cancer with lots of Tregs we could use the equivalent of the m2IgGa isotype and in patients where we feel we need better cytotoxic T cells we could use the equivalent of a mIgG1 isotype to boost the immune response. This information is important for developing the next generation of OX40 antibodies that we hope will be more effective in treating patients with cancer.”

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Materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Understanding how to improve antibodies targeting OX40 for the treatment of cancer

Understanding how to improve antibodies targeting OX40 for the treatment of cancer

  • January 8, 2021

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Credit: NIAID

Scientists at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology have gained new insight into how the immune system can be better used to find and kill cancer cells.

Working with BioInvent International, a team led by Professor Mark Cragg and Dr Jane Willoughby from the Antibody and Vaccine Group, based at the Centre, have shown that antibodies, designed to target the molecule OX40, give a more active immune response when they bind closer to the cell membrane and can be modified to attack cancer in different ways.

OX40 is a ‘co-receptor’ that helps to stimulate the production of helper and killer T-cells during an immune response. One of the ways cancer avoids detection is by suppressing immune responses to stop functional tumour specific T-cells from being produced.

In the study, which has been published in Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, the team also discovered that switching the antibody’s isotype (the part of the antibody that engages with cells of the immune system) could change the way the antibody worked.

When the mIgG2a isotype was used, the antibody could delete cells called Treg cells which are suppressive in the immune system. When the mIgG1 isotype was present, the antibody could stimulate killer T-cells to increase and therefore kill more cancer cells.

Professor Cragg said: “Clinical trials with anti-OX40 antibodies have shown that the body can tolerate these drugs but unfortunately have also shown disappointing clinical responses. We need to understand why this is.

“This new data shows us that when there is a cancer with lots of Tregs we could use the equivalent of the m2IgGa isotype and in patients where we feel we need better cytotoxic T cells we could use the equivalent of a mIgG1 isotype to boost the immune response. This information is important for developing the next generation of OX40 antibodies that we hope will be more effective in treating patients with cancer.”

###

Notes to Editors

1) Contact Peter Franklin, Media Realtions, University of Southampton. Tel: 07748 321087 Email: p.franklin@soton.ac.uk.

2) Reference: Jane E Willoughby, Mark S Cragg et al, Domain Binding and Isotype Dictate the Activity of Anti-human OX40 Antibodies; Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, https://jitc.bmj.com/content/8/2/e001557

3) For more about the University of Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology visit: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/youreit/

4) The University of Southampton drives original thinking, turns knowledge into action and impact, and creates solutions to the world’s challenges. We are among the top 100 institutions globally (QS World University Rankings 2021). Our academics are leaders in their fields, forging links with high-profile international businesses and organisations, and inspiring a 22,000-strong community of exceptional students, from over 135 countries worldwide. Through our high-quality education, the University helps students on a journey of discovery to realise their potential and join our global network of over 200,000 alumni. http://www.southampton.ac.uk

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

R-Vital multivitamin treatment meets Standard 100 by Oeko-tex

R-Vital multivitamin treatment meets Standard 100 by Oeko-tex

  • January 7, 2021

Dyeing/​Finishing/​Printing

Textile chemicals producer Devan has announced that its latest technology, R-Vital Multivitamin, meets the requirements of the Standard 100 by Oeko-tex (Class II). The technology is part of Devan’s R-Vital range of microencapsulated active ingredients and consists of vitamin C, vitamin E and ginger.

Preventative health is top of mind and we feel more concerned than usual about staying strong and healthy, says Devan. The Covid-19 pandemic has also caused people to think about how they can become more resilient and lead a healthy lifestyle, the company says.

A balanced immune system is crucial and depends on how healthy we are, both mentally and physically, continues Devan. “People seek out products to boost that immune system. Providing products and services which allow consumers to become healthier is key. A survey from McKinsey & Company revealed that 75% of respondents in China want to eat more healthily after the crisis,” it adds.

The new multivitamin blend is part of the R-Vital range, a fabric treatment that enables textile manufacturers to ‘boost’ their textiles with a patented range of microencapsulated active ingredients. The technology was first launched at Heimtextil in 2018 with active ingredients including Q10, Thyme oil, Aloe Vera, and more. The fabric treatment is based on microencapsulation. Active ingredients are encapsulated and applied to the fabric. “The treated textiles touch our skin, and the friction causes the microcapsules to break. Then, the active ingredients are absorbed by our skin,” adds Devan.

Since its launch in 2018, Devan has continuously added new ingredients such as CBD, Avocado and Echinacea. The latest blend contains vitamin C, vitamin E and ginger and is designed for immunity-boosting properties, according to the company.

“With vaccination campaigns still ongoing, Devan’s treatment might be a valuable technology for those seeking to give that little extra support to their immune system in the meantime,” Devan concludes.

Devan Website

Scientists find new way to predict risks of immunotherapy: Here's what you need to know about this cancer treatment

Scientists find new way to predict risks of immunotherapy: Here’s what you need to know about this cancer treatment

  • December 14, 2020

In recently published research, a group of scientists from the Uppsala University, Sweden have stated that rituximab, a monoclonal antibody drug that is used for cancer immunotherapy, reacts differently with the blood of healthy people and those with chronic lymphatic leukaemia. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment wherein a patient’s own immune system is stimulated or strengthened to fight cancer cells. Chronic lymphatic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects the B cells (a type of immune system cell that helps fight against infections) of a person.

In a news release by the Uppsala University, the study authors indicated that this research not only helps in better understanding of how rituximab works and predicting the risks and effects of immunotherapy but also in learning more about monoclonal antibodies without the need for animal studies. The findings of the study are published in the journal International Immunopharmacology.

Immunotherapy and your immune system

The human immune system is constantly working to recognise and eliminate foreign and harmful substances from the body. However, as per the American Cancer Society, cancer cells usually start off as normal cells and hence our immune system is sometimes unable to recognise them. On occasion, the immune cells are unable to mount a strong response against cancer cells and cancer cells may also release certain substances that keep them from being recognised by immune system cells.

This is where immunotherapy comes into play. Through this therapy, healthcare experts improve the body’s natural defence system and/or administer lab-made substances to the patient that boost the anticancer effects of the immune system.

Immunotherapy is of various types, from the administering of immunomodulating drugs or cytokines to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells and checkpoint inhibitors to help the immune cells to recognise cancer and tumours, lab-made viruses (oncolytic viruses) to training T-cells (Chimeric antigen T-cell therapy or CART) to fight and kill cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies are also used in immunotherapy. These are antibodies that are prepared to only fight cancer cells without affecting healthy cells.

Rituximab and B cells

Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that binds to a protein called CD20, which is present on the surface of B cells. After the binding, the drug attracts NK (natural killer) cells to the affected site, helping B cells kill the cancer-causing cells. However,  it can also activate something called cytokine release syndrome (CRS), characterised by increased inflammation in the body, which may be life-threatening.

In the latest study, the researchers used whole blood to study the mechanism, safety and toxicity of rituximab treatment in both healthy individuals and individuals with cancer. It was observed that those with B cells only showed some reduction in B cell levels in their body. On the other hand, cancer patients showed reduced CRS along with lower B cell levels.

“The results show that there is a disease-specific immune response when blood and drugs interact. This indicates that the blood loop can be used for individual treatment and preclinical studies to identify and understand the toxicity risks for monoclonal antibody-based drug candidates,” said Dr Mark Cragg, co-author of the study, in the news release by the University.

The study authors are now planning extensive clinical trials to better understand the results of the study.

For more information, read our article on Cancer.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

In 2020, CBD Is Booming as a Treatment for Anxiety & Stress

In 2020, CBD Is Booming as a Treatment for Anxiety & Stress

  • November 13, 2020

It started, as many impulse decisions do, with an Instagram ad. A friend tagged me in a giveaway for CBD oil precisely at the time I needed it most. The election was coming up, I hadn’t left my house in what felt like months, and my sense of impending doom was growing by the day. I was ready to try just about anything to relieve my anxious energy, so I placed an order for CBD oil on a whim.

I like to think of myself as a trendsetter, but I admittedly hopped on the bandwagon here. The CBD market has been booming during this stress-inducing year. Google searches for “CBD for stress” have risen on and off since January, reaching the highest levels of interest in June and October. The Brightfield Group, a cannabis research firm, estimates that the U.S. market for CBD will reach $4.7 billion in sales this year, a 14% increase from 2019. And a quick Instagram search of the hashtag #cbd yields over 11 million posts, many of which feature influencers holding colorful dropper bottles of the stuff. If you hadn’t heard of CBD a year ago, you almost definitely have heard of it by now.

What Is CBD, Anyway?

What’s that? You’ve been living on the space station and haven’t heard of CBD? OK, here’s the scoop. Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a chemical compound found naturally in the cannabis plant. It’s related to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes the characteristic marijuana “high,” but with one distinct difference: CBD causes no psychoactive effect on its own.

Both CBD and THC connect with receptors in your brain. “The body has a biological system which regulates several bodily functions called the endocannabinoid system,” explains Matthew Mintz, M.D., a clinical associate professor at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Bethesda, MD, and author of Medical Marijuana and CBD: A Physician’s Guide for Patients. THC acts by stimulating the cannabinoid receptors present in your brain and nervous tissue, he says, which influences your normal thought patterns.

In contrast, CBD interacts with neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for regulating mood. “CBD has been shown to stimulate certain receptors like the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, which might explain why it is helpful in anxiety and nausea,” says Dr. Mintz, echoing a 2019 study in the medical journal Pain that confirmed the serotonin connection. “Other receptors CBD interacts with in the body include adenosine and glycine receptors, which can explain the role CBD plays in reducing inflammation and pain.” More research, such as a 2018 report in Surgical Neurology International, has found evidence to suggest that CBD can help with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and neuropathic pain.

Regulation Lags Behind

Despite these promising findings, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to give CBD its official blessing. “The research on CBD, especially CBD by itself, is very limited,” Dr. Mintz notes. In 2018, the FDA approved one prescription product containing CBD for the treatment of epilepsy. Other than that, the market remains unregulated—problematic both for manufacturers who want their product to have credibility, and for consumers who may be wary to try variations of the chemical compound without FDA approval.

Thus far, the public is relying mostly on small studies and anecdotal evidence to suggest that CBD can help with anxiety—but that hasn’t stopped the market from exploding. As this week’s New York Times article suggests, it’s become the go-to soother for a stressed-out country. Anita Fosen, 25, an internet blogger, has been using CBD for two months now to help with her sleeplessness. “I have mostly taken a few drops some hours before going to sleep, but since getting it, I have also taken it a few times during the day if I feel very stressed or anxious,” she says. Though she still has some sleepless nights, she believes the CBD is helping; she even gives a canine version to her dog to calm his anxiety during thunderstorms.

So, Should You Try It?

That’s really up to you. While CBD hasn’t been shown to be dangerous or to have serious negative side effects, it also hasn’t been definitively proven to reduce stress. That said, many people love and swear by it—and the growing popularity speaks for itself.

The toughest part of shopping for CBD products is knowing which brands are trustworthy. In the United States, it is illegal for companies to market CBD as a dietary supplement or to make unproven medical claims about it. Capsules, oil tinctures, and gummies are all legal, but they’re advertised simply as tools for general health and well-being.

“Since it is not regulated, you can’t be sure what you are getting,” Dr. Mintz says. “The only way to know that you are getting good high-quality full spectrum CBD is to purchase from a company that verifies their products using a third party, independent lab.” (You can look for a third-party certificate displayed on the company’s website.)

If you have a medical condition or are taking medication of any kind, Dr. Mintz recommends checking in with your physician before trying CBD. Most importantly, don’t make an abrupt swap from you usual meds for anxiety to CBD products—the side effects of quitting cold turkey can be serious, and CBD shouldn’t replace any proven therapies you use for your mental health.

As for me, I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic. After experimenting with CBD oil for just over a week, I’ve noticed I sleep better on the nights I take the dropper before bed. Granted, it could be a placebo effect… but it’s certainly enough to keep me intrigued. And in a year like 2020, I’ll take all the help I can get.

Turning to natural alternatives for COVID-19 treatment

Turning to natural alternatives for COVID-19 treatment

  • November 11, 2020

While these drugs were initially stated to be effective in treating COVID-19, several studies emerged which did not support their touted efficacy and safety rates.

New Delhi: With the novel coronavirus infecting over five crore people globally, boosting immunity is the biggest concern today. A body’s immune system is its defence system. When a cold or flu virus, or the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 gets into your body, your immune system mounts an attack. However, this attack needs to be balanced as an overactive immune system can cause a cytokine storm.

While there is no one specific treatment or cure which could kill the COVID causing virus, a number of anti-viral, antimalarial and inflammation-fighting medicines like HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine), Remdesivir, Favipiravir and dexamethasone are being used in the hospitals.

While these drugs were initially stated to be effective in treating COVID-19, several studies emerged which did not support their touted efficacy and safety rates. A report appeared in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ (NEJM), underlined that HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine) did not work for critically ill patients.

Further, another study done in New York, stated that using HCQ did not show extensive results and even induced certain side-effects that were not seen before. Based on clinical data, doctors using Favipiravir in the trials for Covid-19 observed that the drug suppressed the symptoms in people suffering from mild attacks of corona.

However, Favipiravir does not offer total safety and the disease may recur in the patient. Additionally, the Solidarity Trial conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that Remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on mortality or length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease.

Of all the potential therapies, Vitamins A, C, D, Zinc and Iron are most known for their roles in the immune system. Recently, a meta-analysis of a clinical trial stated that these supplements do not protect against Covid-19. It says having too much vitamins and minerals can impact overall immunity.

Thus, instead of taking additional supplements, one should focus on other aspects of supporting your immune system such as exercising, hydrating, getting enough sleep and eating fruit and vegetables. Studies suggest that all these supplements had little or no effect on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay in hospitalised patients. This leads us to ancient herbal medicine as numerous places including China, Madagascar, Ghana, Central African Republic, Kerala and Goa seem to be keeping mortality rates low by using herbs.

How Alternative Treatments Are Helping?

As the scientists and medical experts across the globe are working tirelessly to procure a treatment to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. A groundbreaking interim result of a clinical trial of COVID-19 patients has given rise to new hopes.

The patients underwent natural treatment for COVID-19 in three hospitals and it was found that the combination treatment of Ayurvedic remedy known as “‘Immunofree” by the Corival Life Sciences, and ‘Reginmune’ by Biogetica which is a Nutraceutical produced better results when compared to the conventional treatment approved by the government for COVID-19. It should be noted that none of the patients who were given the natural treatment progressed into developing severe symptoms or needed life support.

However, Ayurveda TCM and African traditional medicine focuses on lifestyle practices and immunity for cure and prevention of diseases. For instance, herbs like – Pushkarmool (Inula Racemosa), Dhamanaka (Artemisia Nilagirica), Pippali (Piper Longum), Kalmegh (Andrographis Paniculata), Bhumamalaki (Phyllanthus amarus), Ocimum Sanctum (Tulsi) and Glycyrrhzia Glabra (Liquorice), which have been used extensively in many countries and have found significant inhibition of the virus. They work on improving the body’s capabilities like the body’s T-cells and natural killer cells, which will greatly improve the chances of recovery when the virus catches you.

Apart from this, the Ministry of AYUSH, in its latest guidance, issued an advisory to states across the country recommending the use of traditional homeopathic drugs, Arsenicum Album 30 as a form of preventive medicine against COVID-19. Its prophylactic use has been suggested to battle some of the other symptoms associated with a flu-like infection, which have also been observed in COVID positive patients.

In fact, numerous countries and states that have adopted or mandated natural treatment for Novel Coronavirus have shown mortality rates less than 1/10 of their neighbours. However, Arsenicum Album does not have data supporting it like these herbs above do from in silica, in vitro and in vivo studies.

With the anxiety around the disease, people are seeking “back to roots” or “traditional” remedies, such as immunity boosters to seek comfort. It seems like the aforementioned herbs can possibly do the body more good than harm and therefore should be taken by all during this pandemic.

Eli Lilly receives authorisation for Covid-19 antibody treatment

Eli Lilly receives authorisation for Covid-19 antibody treatment

  • November 10, 2020

The US Food and Drug Administration has given Eli Lilly the first emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 antibody treatment, which the drugmaker hopes will help vulnerable people avoid hospitalisation.

Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab therapy has been authorised for mild-to-moderate patients, who are at risk for developing a more serious condition, such as the elderly, or those with chronic illnesses.

The treatment — designed to boost the immune system of patients with artificially engineered antibodies — is the first drug developed for use this early in the disease. 

David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s chief executive, said it was a “valuable tool for doctors fighting the now-increasing burden of this global pandemic”. 

Eli Lilly’s shares rose 3.1 per cent to $146.75 in after-hours trading in New York.

The emergency approval comes on the same day as a big breakthrough in a race for a vaccine. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced their vaccine was far more effective than expected, with 90 per cent efficacy at an interim analysis of its phase 3 data.

Eli Lilly’s competitor Regeneron has also applied for an emergency use authorisation for its antibody treatment, which President Donald Trump took while sick and hailed as a “cure”.

Regeneron has paused a trial in its more seriously ill Covid-19 patients after an independent monitoring board suggested there might be a “potential safety signal”, with risks outweighing benefits.

Eli Lilly abandoned its trial in the sicker patients.

The FDA said Eli Lilly’s emergency approval was not for people already in hospital, where no benefit was shown, warning it could be associated with “worse outcomes” if the patient is on high flows of oxygen.

More data will be required for full FDA approval. Patrizia Cavazzoni, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said: “We will continue to evaluate new data on the safety and efficacy of bamlanivimab as they become available.”

The company said it was on course to make a million doses by the end of 2020, with more manufacturing capacity allowing it to expand production in 2021. It is in talks with regulators in other countries about approval.

The US government would allocate 300,000 doses to high-risk patients, with no out-of-pocket costs for the medication, Eli Lilly said in a release. The federal government would allocate supplies based on Covid-19 rates in different regions in the previous seven days. 

The emergency use authorisation is based on a phase 2 study that found it reduced viral load, symptoms and hospitalisation in mild-to-moderate patients. About 3 per cent of participants taking the drug had to visit the emergency room or be admitted to hospital, compared to 10 per cent on placebo.

Latest coronavirus news

Follow FT’s live coverage and analysis of the global pandemic and the rapidly evolving economic crisis here.

Single cancer cell samples may boost custom treatment

Single cancer cell samples may boost custom treatment

  • November 9, 2020

Thanks to a new 3D cell culture technique, it may be possible to personalize treatment by understanding the contributions of different cell types in a tumor to the cancer’s behavior.

Each cancer patient’s tumors have cells that look and act differently, making it difficult for scientists to determine treatments based on tumors grown from generic cell cultures in the lab.

“Creating specific treatments that can address an individual patient’s cancer is the Holy Grail of personalized therapy, and now we’re one step closer.”

The new technique recreates tumors in the lab from single cells.

“I see a future where a cancer patient gives a blood sample, we retrieve individual tumor cells from that blood sample, and from those cells create tumors in the lab and test drugs on them,” says Cagri Savran, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. “These cells are particularly dangerous since they were able to leave the tumor site and resist the immune system.”

A pipette captures a single cancer cell
A pipette captures a single cancer cell. (Credit: Rohil Jain/Purdue)

Cell culture is a technique that biologists use to conduct research on normal tissue growth as well as on specific diseases. A 3D cell culture permits the formation of tumors from cancer cells that grow in three dimensions, meaning that the tumor is more like a three-dimensional potato than a two-dimensional leaf.

Cancer cell heterogeneity

The team is the first to demonstrate a 3D cell culture from individually selected cells. This feat, described in a paper in Scientific Reports, will allow scientists to more accurately know the impact of each cell on a tumor’s formation and behavior.

“To produce tissue samples that are close to what we have in the body, which allows us to do high-fidelity research in the laboratory, we need to place cells in an environment that mimics their natural milieu, allowing the cells to organize into recognizable structures like tissues in vivo,” says Sophie Lelièvre, a professor of cancer pharmacology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Current 3D cell culture techniques have their limits, says Lelièvre, who studies 3D cell culture and helps design new cell culture methods as scientific director of the 3D Cell Culture Core (3D3C) Facility at the Birck Nanotechnology Center of Purdue’s Discovery Park.

Real tumors, for example, are made up of cells of various phenotypes, or behaviors. How different these cells are from each other is described by the term “heterogeneity.” Researchers say they don’t yet fully understand the cellular heterogeneity of real tumors.

“Within a tumor, most cells are cancerous, but they do not have the same phenotype,” Lelièvre says. “It has been proposed that some tumors respond to chemotherapy, and some are resistant depending on the degree of heterogeneity of these phenotypes. It’s difficult to pinpoint treatments based on tumors grown in the lab because every patient’s tumors have different levels of heterogeneity.”

Individual tumor cells

A typical cell culture dish or device also has a large number of cells. Scientists have no control over which cells develop into tumors. To understand how the heterogeneity inside a tumor develops and drives resistance to treatment, scientists need to study the contribution of each cell phenotype to the tumor by selecting individual cells and studying their impact.

Savran had previously demonstrated a microfluidic device capable of isolating single cancer cells from a blood sample.

“These cells are extremely rare,” Savran says. “With a sample with billions of cells, we may find just one or two tumor cells. But since we’ve figured out how to find them, we can now hand them off to people like Sophie to help study their heterogeneity.”

Savran’s team created a mechanical device that successfully extracted single tumor cells from existing cell lines of breast and colon cancers. They deposited each single cell onto a matrix gel island following Lelièvre’s advice.

After several days, the team observed that many of the selected single cells had developed into tumors that displayed degrees of aggressiveness corresponding to the cancer subtype of origin. The cells also recreated phenotypic heterogeneity, as shown with an imaging-based quantitative approach used previously by the Lelièvre lab.

“What Cagri’s technique did is really priceless,” Lelièvre says. “By simply analyzing the morphology of the tumors developed from individual cells, we could confirm that the degree of heterogeneity among tumors of the same cancer subtype increases with time without any other pressure or stimuli than those exerted by the growth of the tumor itself.”

The researchers also demonstrated that the degree of phenotypic heterogeneity inside a tumor depends on the cell of origin and could be related to fast-growing tumors for a specific breast cancer subtype, bringing new directions of research to understand the underlying mechanisms of aggressiveness in cancers.

“Creating specific treatments that can address an individual patient’s cancer is the Holy Grail of personalized therapy, and now we’re one step closer,” Savran says.

Source: Purdue University

“I see a future where a cancer patient gives a blood sample, we retrieve individual tumor cells from that blood sample, and from those cells create tumors in the lab and test drugs on them,” says Cagri Savran. (Credit:

Working It Out: Does Exercise Boost the Effectiveness of Melanoma Treatment?

Working It Out: Does Exercise Boost the Effectiveness of Melanoma Treatment?

  • November 6, 2020
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