Scientists at Cardiff University in the UK have found a way to enhance the cancer-destroying ability of T-cells through DNA editing. The research team used CRISPR genome editing technique to remove the receptors naturally present on T-cells, and instead replace them with receptors that would recognize specific cancers cells, causing the T-cells to destroy them. The research team hopes that the technique will enhance immunotherapies for cancer.
Harnessing the ability of T-cells to attack and kill cancer cells is at the forefront of transformative cancer immunotherapy. While the technique holds a lot of promise, and has already shown some impressive results, there is always room for improvement. The researchers at Cardiff University realized that T-cells have some features that get in the way of their ability to recognize and kill cancer, and developed a way to fix this.
“Up until now, T-cells engineered to fight cancer had two kinds of receptors – the therapeutic one that was added in the lab, and their own naturally existing one,” says Andrew Sewell, one of the researchers involved in the study. “Since there is only limited ‘space’ on a cell for receptors, cancer-specific ones need to compete with the cell’s own receptors to perform their function.”
Frequently, this competition between the receptors on the T-cells meant that they never reached their full potential in killing cancer cells. The researchers used CRISPR genome editing to remove the cell’s own receptors that serve no purpose in killing cancer, and replaced them with receptors that can recognize specific cancer cells. These changes made the T-cell into a specialist cancer killer, which is more effective at targeting cancer cell lines and 1,000-fold more sensitive to molecules that can induce an immune response.
“The improvement in the sensitivity of cancer recognition that can be achieved by editing out the existing natural receptor and then replacing it with one that sees cancer cells is remarkable,” says Sewell. “Future clinical applications are likely to now make use of this advancement.”
Study in journal Blood: CRISPR-mediated TCR replacement generates superior anticancer transgenic T-cells…
Via: Cardiff University…