Late stage, hard tumors are almost impossible to treat, but not anymore.
A new CAR T drug could treat such untreatable tumors, giving hope to around two million terminal cancer patients including 9/11 first responders.
It came to light after a new type of immunotherapy shrunk tumors and reduced cancer in the blood of mesothelioma patients by up to 50 percent in an early-stage clinical trial at the American Association of Cancer Research.
Researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, said improvement was observed just after a single dose of treatment in the patients who are otherwise resistant to treatment.
The scientists also identified and solved several issues that arose in immunotherapy for solid tumors in one go.
Lead study author and Sloan Kettering deputy chief of thoracic surgery, Dr. Prasad Adusumilli, told Daily Mail that this approach is the first in the world.
Dr. Adusumilli said cancer is a battle and that’s how his team approached the study.
The team of researchers thoroughly studied the ‘battlefield’ or tumor environment before designing CAR T therapy as a “precision tool/weapon with no collateral damage.”
The treatment provides hope for incurable late-stage tumors.
About half of cancers such as pancreatic and colorectal are diagnosed in late stages, making them incurable with the standard treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.
However, this new type of CAR T immunotherapy could be the solution for such cancers.
The new CAR T therapy supercharges the immune system of a patient to fight its own cancer. It is conducted by bioengineering a patient’s own T cells – a type of white cells – to make them attack cancer cells.
CAR T cell therapy is the most functioning technique among the innovations made in immunotherapy for the last 20 years.
The way for the new CAR T therapy was paved by the work of Dr James Allison, a Texas-based immunologist who was also awarded the Nobel Prize for his study of T cells.
Immunotherapy has previously cured people with blood cancers but it failed to cure those who had solid tumors. Its new version, however, developed by scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering, could change that.
The previous techniques failed to cut down mesothelin – a protein which acts like armor on the tumors’ surfaces in lung, ovarian, breast, stomach, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.
Dr Prasad Adusumilli and his team addressed this issue by giving new features to CAR T therapy.
They bioengineered the T cells to specifically destroy the mesothelin proteins that exist on the surface of late-stage, hard-to-treat solid tumors.
Moreover, the procedure is performed using own blood of a patient so their bodies also don’t reject the drug.
Owing to these features, the new treatment is capable of “avoiding toxicity and increasing efficacy several folds,” Dr Adusimilli said.
“This approach is first in the world,” he added.
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