May 23, 2014

Modified T-Cell Cure for Cancer

Emma Whitehead’s Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cure is one of the first success stories of the modified T-cell therapy for cancer developed by University of Pennsylvania researchers and Novartis Oncology.

Image: Forbes

Matthew Herper in Forbes summarizes the progress in cancer cure by Novartis. 
But the developments at Penn point, tantalizingly, to something more, something that would rank among the great milestones in the history of mankind: a true cure. Of 25 children and 5 adults with Emily’s disease, ALL, 27 had a complete remission, in which cancer becomes undetectable. “
But commercializing June’s cancer-killing cells would be like no drug development program ever. Scientists call them chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, or CARTs. T-cells are the immune system’s most vicious hunters. They use their receptors to feel around in the body for cells with particular proteins on their surface and destroy them, targeting infected cells and cancer. With CARTs scientists add a man-made receptor–the chimeric antigen receptor–assembled from mouse antibodies and receptor fragments. A gene code for the man-made receptor is inserted into the T-cell’s DNA with a virus, usually a modified HIV. If the receptor sees cancer, not only does it kill it, it starts dividing, creating a cancer-killing army inside the body.

Progress in developing cancer cure with such therapies is being made at Novartis, Juno Therapeutics and others.

Tags: cancer cure, modified t-cell therapy, novartis cancer cure, novartis vs juno