Smart Cell Therapy Can Kill Cancer

by Karishma Abhishek on Nov 28 2020 2:06 PM

Smart Cell Therapy Can Kill Cancer
Smart cell therapies can treat cancer by killing the tumor cells and simultaneously sparring the healthy cells as per a study at UC San Francisco and Princeton University, published in the journal Science.
Blending the art of cutting-edge therapeutic cell engineering and advanced computational methods, this living medicine can remain dormant till it is activated. This activation is usually done by a set of proteins that are found only in cancer cells.

"Currently, most cancer treatments, including cell therapies, are told 'block this,' or 'kill this. We want to increase the nuance and sophistication of the decisions that a therapeutic cell makes", said Lim, professor and chair of cellular and molecular pharmacology and a member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Smart Cell Therapy :

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has gained a lot of attention in the treatment for cancer, where the patient’s immune cells are withdrawn from their blood and manipulated to recognize cancer cells. Though this treatment proves beneficial in blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, its efficacy is lacking in solid tumors like that of breast, lung, or liver. The reason is due to the similarity in cancer antigens with that of normal cells.

An antigen is a type of protein/ substance that provokes an immune response against self. The body’s immune system recognizes foreign antigens as an alert signal to produce antibodies against it.

The researchers explored almost 2,300 genes of public databases to analyze the differences between normal and tumor cells. They combined machine learning techniques – synnotchand Boolean logic, to detect a logical combination of antigens that can trigger an immune response targeted only against cancer cells, leaving the normal cells – untouched.

The result was successfully demonstrated in a mice model where the immune cells – T-cells triggered a cellular response against specifically designed antigens of the tumor.

"This work is essentially a cell engineering manual that provides us with blueprints for how to build different classes of therapeutic T cells that could recognize almost any possible type of combinatorial antigen pattern that could exist on a cancer cell," added Lim, "You're not just looking for one magic-bullet target. You're trying to use all the data."

The study involving interdisciplinary approach towards cancer can eventually add a new dimension to the tumor treatment.