April 1, 2018 at 11:30 pm

MCB 7410 Seminar | CAR T Cells: An Adoptive Cell Therapy, April 3

Christian Showalter,portrait

Christian Showalter

The Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program presents an MCB 7410 Seminar featuring Christian Showalter discussing “CAR T Cells: An Adoptive Cell Therapy” on Tuesday, April 3, at 4:35 p.m. in Porter 105.

Showalter is a graduate student in Biological Sciences.

Refreshments are provided.

Abstract: T cells function as the workhorses of the immune system due to their primary role as the facilitators of the adaptive immune response and their proficiency in killing diseased cells. Harnessing this cytotoxic ability of T cells and directing them to target cancer cells has created the rapidly growing field in cancer immunotherapy known as adoptive cell therapy. The most clinically developed adoptive cell therapy treatment has been chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. CAR T cells are generated ex vivo using a lentiviral vector to genetically alter a patient’s own T cells to express synthetic receptors aimed at binding to antigens associated with cancer cells. When the genetically modified T cells are injected back into the patient these synthetic receptors will recognize antigens on the surface of malignant cells and subsequently prompt the CAR T cell to kill these cancerous cells. The greatest success with CAR T cell therapy has been seen in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cause of cancer in children.

While nearly 40 percent of ALL patients can be cured by intensive chemotherapy, the patients whose cancer relapsed after chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation have no other effective treatment options. The bleak reality for these patients recently brightened when in August 2017 the U.S. FDA announced a “historic action” in its approval of the first gene therapy which made available the use of CAR T cells targeting the CD19 antigen for the treatment of pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed B-cell precursor ALL. This “living drug” known as Tisagenlecleucel works by transducing harvested T cells with a lentiviral vector which incorporates a gene coding for a receptor to target CD19, a protein present on all B cells including those that are cancerous. By targeting and depleting all CD19 expressing cells, the cancer has the potential to be cured. Despite the successes of CAR T cell therapy for the treatment of relapsed ALL and in other hematological malignancies, CAR T cell therapies for solid cancers have not been without their setbacks. Modifications in the development of CAR T cells are an area of active investigation and are inspiring novel solutions to the hurdles preventing broad application of this technology in solid tumors.

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