A study has shown that cancer patients’ white blood cells were genetically engineered to enable T-cells to identify and destroy the cancer cells.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are immune cells that have been genetically engineered to generate a T-cell receptor capable of targeting specific cancer cells. A patient’s own T cells are collected, modified, then infused back into the patient. Although very promising results and successes have been noted for the application of CAR-T cell therapy for blood cancers, it is not without significant challenges to overcome. Among the challenges are patients that do not respond to the therapy, relapses, limited CAR-T cell life-span, rapid loss of anti-cancer function, and low efficacy against solid tumors.
Researchers from the Georgia Cancer Center of Augusta University have conducted a study that shows that CAR-T cells can have longer and more effective anti-cancer activity with the addition of an active signal transducer, activator of transcription 5 (STAT5), in CAR T cells. STAT5 is a signaling molecule that is essential for the development of T cells and the differentiation of helper T cells. The study consisted of the adoptive transfer of STAT5-transduced CAR-T cells into mice experimentally inoculated with tumor cells.
The researchers observed that active mouse STAT5 in the CAR-T cells enhanced expansion of T cells, longer CAR-T cell survival, the capacity to enter tumor cells, and cytotoxic T cell anti-tumor activity. Overall, the research results demonstrated that the addition of STAT5 to CAR-T cells provided improved anti-cancer outcomes in mice by promoting continued T-cell survival and activity in the body after killing cancer cells, a feature that can help reduce cancer relapse.
Further research is necessary to see if the observations of the mouse study holds true in humans. The safety of STAT5-enhanced CAR-T cells also remains to be determined. Thus far, STAT5 appears to be a beneficial component of CAR-T cell development that can provide the factors needed to overcome the current CAR-T cell therapy challenges by providing expanded, efficacious, and safe use as anti-cancer chemotherapy.
Emily Henderson, B. (2020). Study shows how STAT5 optimizes function of CD4+ T cells to drive antitumor immunity. Retrieved 8 January 2021, from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201214/Study-shows-how-STAT5-optimizes-function-of-CD42b-T-cells-to-drive-antitumor-immunity.aspx