A brand new work in the fast growing field of immunotherapy is being hailed by some as a potential universal cure for all cancers, but how does that work. And is it close to actually happening. So, there are a couple of different types of immunotherapy. But this recent news relates to a very specific category called T cell therapy, the human body has a bunch of different kinds of immune cells but this therapy uses only one kind, your T cells, which are a kind of white blood cell. Cancer Cure how close are we
These cells have surface molecules, all over them called receptors and they patrol your body looking for stuff that shouldn’t be there. It’s basically a lock and key situation. If the lock is the receptor on the T cell, then the key is what’s called an antigen. That’s a surface structure on whatever cell your body wants to get rid of like when that’s been infected by a virus. Once the T cell binds to the antigen, it activates different immune pathways to get rid of that unwanted intruder and immunotherapy leverages that by basically hacking the system. This is the idea behind existing T cell therapies for cancer.
Scientists remove some of the patient’s own T cells, and they genetically engineer them to grow new receptors that are specific to whatever your personal cancer is, so your T cells now have the right lock that they need to be able to recognise the key on your own cancer cells, and then your body can attack and destroy them these therapies are really good tools to have in our arsenal of cancer solutions but they can still have negative side effects, they aren’t always successful, and they’re extremely expensive.
Plus, they’re highly personalised, they’re not universal they only work in your body, and no one else’s. So we’re looking for something better, and broader, and the team out of Cardiff University may have just found a different lock, they used CRISPR cast nine to create a library of modified cancer cells, which helps them describe an entirely new T cell that finds and binds to something called m r1.
This is a cell surface molecule that basically marks cancer cells as problematic, small side note here CRISPR technologies have become super useful in cancer research. And if you want to know more about how they’re used because they’re really cool then check out the sources in the description. Anyway, it turns out, Mr Irwin doesn’t vary from person to person, or from cancer to cancer, like my Mr. One is the same as your Mr one. And it’s the same on the surface of lung liver pancreatic breast melanoma cancer cells.
I could keep going. And if Mr. One is a universal key, then these T cells could be a universal lock the cardiac team has actually showed that these T cells can kill long liver breast melanoma, and other cancer cells, all while leaving healthy cells alone, but that’s just in cell culture like in a dish. So the team went a little bit further and introduced the MR one targeting T cells to mice with human immune systems and human cancer cells and T cells, control the spread of that cancer, the team, even successfully genetically engineered other T cells from the blood of cancer patients to target and were one.
These T cells, then proved successful in killing the patient’s own tumour cells in a dish. If scientists can develop a widely applicable therapy from these findings, then our whole understanding of cancer, and the way we’ve treated could fundamentally change these early results are certainly very promising, and very exciting, and the research team has already entered into a partnership with a biotech company to hopefully develop a treatment they can actually bring to patients, but this news should also be treated again caution.
There are many more steps left between that vision, and where we are now. So while it could be a huge step we still don’t know for sure if it could work for all cancers in all people, like some news headlines are suggesting, and the team has to make sure that these T cells really only attack cancer cells and are actually safe for use in human patients which could take a while. This work is a very fundamental demonstration of something that could change the way we treat cancer forever, but we’ve still got a lot of exploring to do first, if you want even more on groundbreaking medical discoveries that.