The Immunocore team engineered a range of TCRs to bind very tightly to cancer cells and equipped them with the ability to activate non-cancer specific T cells.
|Scooped by Graham Player Ph.D.|
Clinical trials are underway in the UK and US using a new approach to allow the infection-fighting immune system to destroy cancer cells. Our white blood cells are part of our immune system and help the body fight infection. One type of white blood cell, called T cells, directs and regulates immune responses, and attacks infected cells.
A special T cell, called killer T cell, directly attacks other cells carrying certain foreign or abnormal molecules on their surfaces. The killer T cells are especially useful for attacking viruses because viruses often hide from other parts of the immune system while they grow inside infected cells. The killer T cells, via receptors on the cell surface called T cell receptors (TCR), recognize small fragments of these viruses peeking out from the cell membrane and can launch an attack to kill the infected cell.
Researchers at Cardiff University, together with a biotech company, have been able to engineer molecules that bind to the surface of cancer cells marking them for destruction by the killer T cells. This has the effect of redirecting the killer T cell, which normally targets and kills viruses, to directly target cancer cells instead.
This new class of drug is named ‘ImmTACs’ (Immune Mobilising mTCR against Cancer). Exploitation of T cell receptors (TCRs) in treating cancer has been minimal. So potentially this research may open up an entirely new field of medical treatments.