New techniques and developments in applications like robotic surgery, immunotherapy, gene therapy and others are adding to the traditional weaponry of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Hydrogel is now looking a potential winner as well – as today’s lead story suggests. The second looks at gene therapy research in Australia.

# In many ways, romantic comedies are more harmful to gender equality than violent movies are.
# Ironically, the Internet was actually created to save us time.
# A spider is a networking bug.

Researchers Package New Immunotherapy in Hydrogel to Better Fight Cancer

(U.S.) Scientists from Rice University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have developed STINGel, a therapy that combines a new class of immunotherapy drugs with an injectable hydrogel that releases it in a more prolonged, steady dose.

The researchers found that slow-release peptide gels could continuously deliver immunotherapy drugs to tumor sites for extended periods of time.

The hydrogel, which is harmless to normal cells, has immunotherapy drugs inside called cyclic dinucleotides (CDNs), which have been shown to attack cancer cells. CDNs are a powerful new class of immunotherapy drugs known as STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) agonists, currently in clinical trials.

However, research has found that the CDN drugs are flushed quickly from the body, and current trials require multiple injections.

“The normal approach to CDN delivery is simple injection, but this leads to very rapid diffusion of the drug throughout the body and reduces its concentration at the site of the tumor to very low levels," Rice chemist and bioengineer Jeffrey Hartgerink said. "Using the same amount of CDN, the STINGel approach allows the concentration of CDN near the tumor to remain much higher for long periods of time.

Full story:

Benitec Biopharma Launches its Phase 2 Oncology Study in Australia

(Australia)  Benitec Biopharma Limited (ASX: BLT; NASDAQ: BNTC; NASDAQ: BNTCW) ("Benitec" or "the Company"), a biotechnology company developing innovative therapeutics based on a combination of gene therapy and its patented gene-silencing technology named ddRNAi or 'expressed RNAi', has announced the start of its Phase 2 clinical study in Australia with BB-401 as a treatment for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

The Phase 2 open label study has been designed to explore the safety, tolerability and efficacy of BB-401 following intratumoral injections into the lesions of patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC.  The study will enrol up to 30 patients at 5-8 sites across Australia and Russia.  The trial is registered on www.clinicaltrials.govwith the identifier: NCT03433027, where more details can be found.

Chief Executive Officer Greg West said, "I am delighted that we have received approval to commence the study in Australia.  This represents an important milestone for us in the progression of BB-401 as a treatment option for patients with advanced head and neck cancer who have failed all other treatment modalities.  We are on track to start screening patients shortly."

BB-401 is a recombinant DNA construct that produces an antisense RNA with specificity against Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR).  More than 90% of lesions from patients show significantly increased EGFR levels associated with HNSCC.  The goal of this study is to inhibit the expression of EGFR in the treated lesions and thus control the progression of disease and increase patient survival.

For further information regarding visit the Benitec website at

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