HIV Cell Therapy in Development

Combining various treatment approaches is seen as a viable, more powerful means to achieve HIV cure states.

From the time that HIV-related illness and death was first realized in the 1980s until now, efforts to fully understand HIV infection and pathogenesis have been ongoing along with massive research efforts to discover a cure or means to control the spread of the virus. The newest antiviral therapies have made an extraordinary impact on the control of disease progression; however, these do not cure HIV infection and the viral activity returns shortly after antiviral dosing stops. Approaches to achieve HIV immunity are heavily studied, including developing means to provide HIV immunity in T cells and conferring HIV-resistance via gene editing. However, combining various approaches is seen as a viable, more powerful means to achieve HIV control or even a cure.


Research on Universal Cancer Vaccine

Researchers are hoping to develop a cancer vaccine to improve a patient’s immune system so they can destroy the cancer cells.

The objective of therapeutic cancer vaccines is to support and enhance a patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal cells. The first therapeutic immune cell–based cancer vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is Sipuleucel-T. Administration of this vaccine in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer lead to an increase in overall survival. Boosting T-cell responses against antigens that cause a number of diseases has been approached by autologous transfer of dendritic cells. A pilot study was conducted using dendritic cells pulsed with tumor lysate from patients with ovarian cancer. Vaccination of the patients stimulated T-cell responses to the tumor antigen led to an increase in patient survival. 


Combination of Cells Improves Immunotherapy

A recent study looked at how checkpoint inhibitors may impact the success of immunotherapy for cancer treatment.

Immune homeostasis is crucial for human and animal survival. The immune system is equipped with cells and factors that maintain a critical balance of signals that prevent immune dysfunction. Pathways that ensure this balance are immune checkpoints, and these are essential for the self-tolerance that prevents autoimmunity. Immune checkpoint proteins modulate T-cell responses to self-proteins and antigens, including tumor antigens. The proteins are expressed on the surface of cancer and cytotoxic T cells, and cancer cells use these to evade attack by T cells.


Treating Glioblastoma with CAR-T Immunotherapy

There are some promising advances in treating glioblastoma and other cancers with immunotherapy.

The most frequently diagnosed type of brain cancer in adults is glioblastoma multiforme. Despite the emergence of immunotherapeutic approaches for a number of cancers, reliable treatments that can extend overall survival of patients with glioblastoma to the two-year mark and beyond are still under investigation. There are some promising advances such as an experimental dendritic cellbased vaccine that increased the median overall survival rate from 15 months to 23 months.


Personalized Vaccine Fights Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer, while common, is challenging to treat, but a new study is looking into an immunotherapeutic approach using a vaccine from dendritic cells.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death overall in women, but is the leading cause of death due to cancer of the female reproductive system. Ovarian cancer continues to be a challenge to treat, remission is difficult to achieve, and recurrence is common. The treatment approaches used or being studied involve chemotherapy, targeted therapy (to limit damage to normal cells), and immunotherapy. The study of immunotherapeutic approaches is ongoing in order to limit adverse effects in patients and to spare normal tissue from the toxicity seen with chemotherapy. To this end, researchers recently studied an immunotherapeutic approach using a vaccine derived from dendritic cells.


T Cells Can Help Reduce Inflammation in Autoimmune Conditions

New research shows bystander cell accumulation may play an active role in countering autoimmune diseases and curbing inflammation.

Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system attacks the body’s own cells leading to inflammation and damage of organs and tissues. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an example of an autoimmune disease caused by destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic cells (islet beta cells) by the immune system. Cytotoxic T cells that recognize islet beta cell antigens are the main immune cells responsible for the changes seen in T1D, but cytotoxic T cells that do not recognize these antigens are also found to infiltrate the pancreatic tissue. These cells have been designated bystander cells and have been thought to passively contribute to autoimmune-related tissue damage.


Biological Scaffolding Speeds Ex Vivo T Cell Expansion

Scientists discover a new approach to rapidly expand T cells ex-vivo that can be useful for anti-cancer immunotherapeutic approaches.

The development of safe and effective T cell−based anti-cancer immunotherapies is continually developing and have led to some successes. This approach depends on the rapid ex vivo expansion of functional T cells. However, current methods to achieve this are met with a number of challenges that limit the ability to obtain sufficient T cells in less than the several weeks necessary to expand the cells.


How T Cells Navigate the Bloodstream

A crucial step in the T-cell immune response is its migration to the site of action in the body. Immature T cells do not migrate and remain in lymphoid tissue; however, mature T cells acquire the ability to migrate, and the means by which this is accomplished is not fully understood. Recent research shows that T cells migrate in a way similar to that discovered for neutrophils.


Characterization of T Cell Subsets in Adult Minimal Change Disease

Minimal change disease (MCD) is a kidney disease characterized by pathology in the glomeruli. The disease has its name because changes associated with it can only be seen via electron microscopy. The effects on the glomeruli lead to its increase in permeability and subsequent severe loss of proteins in the urine. Immunological changes in the kidney tissue are thought to promote the development of MCD. Research studies have suggested that abnormalities in Foxp3 T regulatory (Treg) cells, which control immune homeostasis, are involved in MCD pathogenesis.


Highly Conserved Influenza A Peptides Show Promise as T Cell Reactive Vaccine Candidates

Influenza A is responsible for flu epidemics worldwide. This virus changes constantly making effective vaccine design very challenging. Currently, vaccines must be redesigned to account for the changes in the virus strains. However, there are influenza viral peptides that are conserved across different strains. These peptides may serve as the basis for the development of vaccines effective against different strains.