Scientists are working on a new way of eliminating abnormal T-cells in T-cell lymphoma.
Professor Andrew Sewell and colleagues at Cardiff University, UK, searched for a new method of targeting cancerous cells without destroying healthy T-cells. They explain that T-cells recognise and destroy pathogens using T-cell receptors which are created by one of two duplicated copies of the T-cell receptor gene, C1 or C2, at random. T-cell cancer affects one or the other, but not both.
The team looked for a way of eliminating T-cells based on whether they use the C1 or C2 gene, leaving the unaffected cell type protected. They worked with a cell technology company Autolus.
"T-cell lymphomas are particularly difficult to treat without damaging essential, healthy T-cells that are vital to the immune system," said Professor Sewell. "The new and innovative approach that Autolus have developed now allows potential for removal of all cancer cells without causing any damage to half of our T-cells. Since T-cells select use of the C1 or C2 gene at random, this remaining half of T-cells are capable of providing immunity to the pathogens we encounter every day."
Dr Georgios Trichas, of the Wellcome Trust, commented: "This is an exciting development that could lead to new potential therapies for T-cell cancers. Previous efforts in the field have been held back by difficulties in distinguishing between normal and cancerous T-cells.
"Importantly, the researchers have not only been able to identify the cancerous T-cells but also shown how existing technologies that redirect the immune system can be adapted using this discovery to target and kill these cells."
Source: Maciocia, P. M. et al. Targeting T-cell receptor beta-constant for immunotherapy of T-cell malignancies. Nature Medicine 13 November 2017 doi: 10.1038/nm.4444
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