Sunday, 23 February, 2020

"Skeleton Key" T-Cell Receptor Works across Multiple Cancer Types

Killer t cells T cells surrounding a cancer cell
Gustavo Carr | 24 January, 2020, 14:58

The cure for cancer might have been hiding within the human immune system all this time.

A research team that recently invented a drug to stop blood vessels from forming a treatment resistant barrier around some cancers has now discovered the drug can be used to prevent the cancer from spreading, Medical Xpress reports.

The researchers were toying around with a special type of genetic screening using CRISPR-Cas9, a technology derived from the genomes of bacteria that is capable of flagging and editing genes within organisms. Imagine it: a T cell equipped with a T-cell receptor (TCR) that bypasses obstructions and engages a shared mechanism, that is, a mechanism common to the locks presented by different kinds of cancer. It could only be a matter of years before determining if the research will lead to results in patients given how growing of a field it is, he said. Professor Sewell added that nobody would have thought this was possible. It bears noting that T-cell therapies already exist in this field, the most famous of which is CAR-T therapy, which is essentially genetically engineering the T-cells of a cancer patient to destroy cancer.

"An MR1-restricted T cell clone mediated in vivo regression of leukemia and conferred enhanced survival of NSG mice", the article's authors wrote.

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During lab testing, the team says the T-cells were able to kill a host of cancers, including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells.

Scientists at Cardiff University narrate they've found a T-cell with a fresh form of receptor that can acknowledge and extinguish most cancers. Currently, the most widely used form of this treatment is known as CAR-T. But the immune response is real, which is the important thing. However, according to the Cardiff researchers, this treatment can "only target certain cancers and has not been successful for solid tumors".

Some specific anti-cancer potential compounds included those that killed by inducing phosphodiesterase 3A-Schlafen 12 complex formation; vanadium-containing compounds whose killing depended on the sulfate transporter SLC26A2; the alcohol dependence drug disulfiram, which killed cells with low expression of metallothioneins; and the anti-inflammatory drug tepoxalin, which killed via the multidrug resistance protein ATP-binding cassette subfamily B member 1. They found almost 50 non-cancer drugs - including those initially developed to lower cholesterol or reduce inflammation - that killed some cancer cells while leaving others alone.

Of course, more testing will need to be done before human trials can proceed, but researchers are being cautiously optimistic. Since the treatment can be shared between people, the possibility of banks for the immune cells could be created in the future.