Car-T therapy for cancer treatment is gaining ground as a new go-to protocol. However, there are some limitations to the procedure. Car-T cell therapy treatment may also contribute to negative side effects that include death. For these reasons, research is ongoing into this revolutionary treatment that attacks cancer from the inside out. And scientists at Cellectis are making great strides toward tweaking and perfecting the data.
Off-the-Shelf Car-T Therapy Would Provide Universal Access
Until recently, T cells could only be harvested from the affected patient. This was impractical for several reasons: Sometimes, finding enough healthy white blood cells in a sick patient was difficult or impossible. Additionally, the process to harvest, cryo-preserve, and then modify the cells was time-consuming — a real problem for some patients for whom a few days’ delay could mean the difference between life and death.
With practice comes knowledge, however, and scientists can now harvest cells from healthy donors, genetically modify them to add the Chimeric Antigen Receptor, and then re-infuse them into patients who battle certain blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, making CAR-T therapy readily accessible off-the-shelf for patients who need treatment.
Once released into the body of an affected patient, the modified cells find and attack other cells that carry the cancer antigen and blast them with fatal cytotoxins. This effectively kills off the cancer and, ideally, sends the patient into remission.
Results Look Promising for Solid Cancers, Too
Cellectis, through intense research into CAR-T cell therapy, has now developed what they feel is a ‘Smart’ Car-T cell. This cell has been genetically modified, not only to carry the cancer-fighting CAR, but to initiate a more customized and controllable attack inside the body. By isolating three genes from the T cell activation pathway and repurposing them, scientists now feel confident they have a safer and more effective weapon with which to battle solid tumors as well.
The new smart cells are capable of adapting to the cancerous microenvironment and regulating how, when, and where they’ll attack. As a result, toxic side effects are lessened, and patients are less likely to experience ill side effects of their life-saving treatments. These new developments in CAR-T therapy give doctors greater control and allow for more precise delivery of the edited cells into the patient. The new Smart cells are called UCARTS, or Universal Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells, that are capable of targeting a specific tumor antigen and destroying it without compromising the life of the patient.
UCARTS Expected to Eliminate Some Risks Associated with Car-T Therapy
Before the development of the smart UCART, side effects associated with Car-T therapy ranged from mild to fatal and included a long list of disconcerting conditions that were a result of re-infusion of the cells into the patient. These side effects included:
- Increase Risk of Infection
Thanks to the work of dedicated scientists at Cellectis, the future of Car-T cell therapy treatment for cancer is expected to become much safer. Doctors will have more precise control over treatment, and many of the negative factors associated with treatment will be alleviated.