Exploring CAR T-cell therapy to treat breast cancer

Credit: NIH

Peter Mac researchers are developing a potential new way to make CAR T-cell therapy more effective against breast cancer and other solid cancers.

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy where a patient’s own immune cells are collected and reengineered, before being infused back into the patient to fight their cancer.

But CAR T-cells also contain a gene that can suppress this immune response. A Peter Mac-led study into this phenomenon has just been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

“Cancer hijacks these pathways to shut off an immune response that would otherwise be beneficial,” says Dr. Paul Beavis, one of the senior authors of the study.

Using a gene editing technique known as CRISPR, Dr. Beavis and his team were able to show that by knocking out this gene, CAR T-cell therapy was significantly more effective at fighting breast cancer.

While the research has so far only been conducted using mice and human CAR T-cells in mice models, Dr. Beavis is confident it has the potential to progress to clinical trials, particularly as the sort of procedures they’ve been using have been used in clinical trials elsewhere…

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