From the blog

Altered CAR-T Cell Therapy for the Treatment of Mesothelioma

Published: January 26, 2024

Immunotherapy is an innovative and groundbreaking way to treat cancer. It uses the immune system to fight and kill cancer cells. One immunotherapy treatment that is showing good results for certain cancers is called CAR-T cell therapy, which is able to target specific proteins on cancer cells. One of the proteins is called mesothelin and can be found in different cancers including mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and some types of leukemia. The treatment is not perfect though and can be stopped by other proteins in the body or can lose momentum when administered to patients, but there is good news. Scientists have come up with a new way to make CAR-T cell therapy work better against mesothelin in cancer.

Scientists first made a special type of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) using a smart technology called OutSpacer. They essentially make a key that locks onto mesothelin on cancer cells. Outspacer technology allows them to change the shape and design of the key, allowing it to work as well as possible. There were more than 300 keys tested in a lab to see which was the best available. Scientists checked to see if cancer cells were killed and the CARs made helpful chemicals without being stopped by other proteins in the body. The best key they created was B8S8 because it killed cancer cells with fewer treatments compared to other keys. The strength of CAR-T cells was also improved, allowing them to stay stronger for longer periods of time. To do this, they used a “stim-on” promoter (OP1) that improved power by ensuring the cells kept making helpful chemicals. When the CAR-T cells were altered and stimulated, they were better at fighting cancer.

This is great news for people with cancers that express mesothelin. Researchers found that the CAR-T cell therapy, when altered, outperformed their expectations. CARs were not stopped by other proteins and they stayed stronger for longer periods of time. Scientists are building better treatments for hard-to-treat cancers like mesothelioma. This new CAR-T cell therapy is a major advancement in the treatment of cancer. This is why clinical trials and cancer research are so important. Researchers can discover new ways to fight cancer and improve the lives of patients. New treatments mean chemotherapy and its harsh effects could be obsolete for certain cancers. Maybe one day, treatments could make cancer a thing of the past.

Jason Yokoyama et al., “Development of a Regulated, Optimized Mesothelin Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) for the Treatment of Mesothelin Positive Cancers” Cellular Immunotherapies: Basic and Translational (November 28, 2023). [Link]
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