Design of T cell circuits that sense antigen density to treat solid tumors
The development of CAR T cells is one of the most important recent advances in the field of immunotherapies targeting cancer. This treatment is mainly used for patients suffering from leukemia or lymphoma. However, the application of CAR T cell therapy to solid tumors is still challenging. For many cancers, there is an abundance of specific proteins on the surface of the tumor that most often exist on the surface of healthy cells. CAR T cells therapy is not able to distinguish between them, which can lead to fatal side effects. However, American and Finnish researchers have identified a new way to program CAR T cells to kill only cancer cells. The researchers have developed a new CAR T cells engineering technique based on a two-step process of identifying HER2-positive cells and the antigen density. HER2 is a characteristic protein of breast, ovarian and abdominal cancer, but is also found in large numbers on the surface of tumor cells. One of the researchers’ goals is to use this technology against a large wide of solid tumors.