Illustration: Massachusetts General Hospital
As we noted in our CAR T Cell Therapy blog, ( 6 November, 2019), there has been a surge in the understanding of how to activate the body’s immune system to combat cancer.
The development and use of modified cells, known as chimeric antigen receptor CAR T Cells which have the ability to recognize and eliminate several cancer cell types without harming healthy cells has proved to be a landmark discovery.
This field of research, known as immuno-oncology, is still in its infancy but it is already making a big difference in the way we treat some seemingly incurable cancers, taking us closer to a future where cancer becomes a curable disease. And yet, although very promising, it is well known that some patients respond to immunotherapy whereas others do not.
The reasons for this are not clear, though additional studies have shown that these response differences could be related to differences in the composition of the so-called gut microbiota between individuals. (See ‘Manipulating Gut Microbiota Composition to Enhance the Therapeutic Effect of Cancer Immunotherapy’ in Further Reading below)
Building on the success of immunotherapy, researchers at Cardiff University School of Medicine have discovered a new receptor in T-cells that works through an unconventional immunological mechanism that is not yet fully understood but appears to work against leukaemia and melanoma regression.
This newly discovered MC.7.G5 receptor cell was used in laboratory tests against cancer cell dishes including lung, melanoma, leukaemia, breast, prostate, and ovarian. The MC.7.G5 killed the cancer cells with 80-100% efficiency while recognising healthy cells and leaving them unharmed.
Announcing the study results, the study co-author, Professor Andrew Sewell, PhD, said: “It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment; a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.’’
Unfortunately, this prospect is still in the distant future. While the study increases our understanding of the body’s immune system and opens up possible new avenues for immunotherapy, more laboratory studies are necessary to fully comprehend the newly discovered receptor T cell. Will MC.77.G5 negate the present ability of cancer cells to adapt and evolve to evade surveillance and circumvent immunotherapies?
There are many issues facing CAR T Cell therapy, which is still in its infancy. We need more resources, both human and financial, together with the tools to convert into action the considerable data now being amassed by researchers across the globe.
We can then proceed to clinical patient trials with a number of therapies to find that elusive pan- cancer cure.
T cell cancer targeting.
Manipulating Gut Microbiota Composition to Enhance the Therapeutic Effect of Cancer Immunotherapy.
Oncolytic Viruses Engineered to Enforce Leptin Expression
Cancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease
Hindawi. Journal of Oncology
Current Challenges in Cancer Immunotherapy
Massachusets General Hospital
Exploring T Cell Potential.