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Cellular therapies use cells, rather than chemical compounds or molecules, to fight cancer. Some are made by genetically modifying specific cells from a patient or donor to improve the cells' cancer-tracking and cancer-attacking ability; others do not
involve such modifications.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has been approved as standard of care for some types of blood cancers.
A new generation of CAR T-cell therapies, potentially better able to identify tumor cells and overcome tumors' evasive moves, is now in clinical testing. Trials of these therapies are also underway
in patients with non-hematological malignancies such as prostate, breast, stomach and rectal cancers, among others.
Scientists are also exploring ways to make CAR T-cell therapies more effective as well as reduce the side effects of therapy.
Engineered T cell receptor (TCR) therapy works by genetically modifying T cells to produce a new receptor that enables them to latch onto specific target proteins on tumor cells. This enables TCR T cells to specifically target cancer cells and avoid normal
cells, sparing patients some of the side effects associated with CAR T-cell therapy. Also, unlike CAR T cells, which take aim at antigen proteins on the tumor cell surface, TCR therapy targets antigens within the tumor cell, which are activated only
when a cell is cancerous. This, too, can reduce side effects. Engineered TCR therapy is currently in clinical trials for patients with melanoma, sarcoma, and head and neck cancer.
This approach involves collecting a sample of tumor tissue and extracting the T cells within it. The cells are allowed to multiply in a lab, then reinfused into the patient. TIL therapy has shown effectiveness for some patients with melanoma and trials are underway in several solid tumors such as cervical and lung cancer.
NK cells are part of the immune system first line of defense against infection and disease. While they can detect and destroy infected and malignant cells directly, without having to be activated or “trained” to respond to them, it is now understood that
NK cells perform better when they are activated by exposure to immune system substances called cytokines. Our program offers clinical trials of NK-cell therapy for patients with myelodysplastic
syndrome, acute myeloid leukemia, and head and neck cancer.
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