Localized activation of the prodrug ifosfamide in or close to tumors by implanting encapsulated ifosfamide-activating cells is an efficacious strategy for tumor therapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of subsieve-size agarose capsules for enclosing the cells in this application. Compared with many conventional microcapsules, subsieve-size agarose capsules are about one-tenth the size and have both higher mechanical stability and allow better molecular exchangeability than other systems. Cells that have been genetically modified to express cytochrome P450 2B1 enzyme were encapsulated in subsieve-size agarose capsules of ∼90 μm in diameter and implanted into preformed tumors in nude mice. Living cells were detected for > 1 month after encapsulation in vitro and showed enzymatic activity (i.e., they were able to activate ifosfamide). More significant regression of preformed tumors was observed in the recipients implanted with cell-enclosing capsules compared with those implanted with empty capsules. These results suggest that the strategy of using subsieve-size agarose capsules enclosing cytochrome P450 2B1-expressing cells is feasible for tumor therapy by chemotherapeutic targeting in combination with ifosfamide administration.
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