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New T-cell study demonstrates ‘powerful’ potential for tailored cancer medicine

The results were published in a peer-reviewed paper in Nature


Patients diagnosed with untreatable cancers have been involved in a new experimental study exploring the potential of gene editing technology by redesigning their immune system to destroy their own tumours.

The clinical study involved 16 patients with either colon, breast or lung cancers that had failed to respond to other treatments, and was made possible by advances in clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technology, which is used as a means of gene editing and enables scientists to manipulate DNA.

The study tested the safety and feasibility of the technology, and despite the disease continuing to get worse in 11 patients, it was shown to stabilise in the other five.

PACT pharma, the developers of the innovative approach, collaborated with nine academic centres and used the company’s proprietary platforms.

Results from the study showed early proof-of-concept that a patient’s immune system has the potential to be reprogrammed to recognise their own cancer, and were discussed as part of a late breaking oral presentation at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC 2022).

In addition, the results were published in Nature concurrently with SITC 2022.

Each patient in the trial had a treatment tailored for them, which focused on the specific weak spots in their respective tumours.

T-cells, the central focus of the trial, are a part of the immune system that patrol the body and identify issues in other cells. T-cells utilise receptors (TCRs), or proteins, which search for signs of infection or problematic cells which may have the potential to be cancerous.

Researchers in the study identified rare T-cells in the patient's blood that already had receptors which could detect their cancer. The researchers went onto glean other T-cells that were unable to track cancer and redesigned them. The newly modified T-cells were administered back into the body to detect tumour activity.

Although it is too early to fully evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy, results taken from the study have so far been noted as a ‘leap forward’ in the area of personalised cancer treatments.

Antoni Ribas, professor of medicine and surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a corresponding author of the Nature paper, said: “This important research was only made possible with several next generation technology platforms developed by the PACT team. Particularly critical to this effort was the newly developed ability to use CRISPR to replace immune receptors in clinical grade cell preparations in a single step.

“The work highlighted at SITC and within the Nature paper paves the way for the continued advancement of research aimed at delivering safe and effective, patient specific TCR T-cell therapies for the treatment of cancer.”

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

15th November 2022

From: Research



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