Relapsed cancer is challenging to treat. Therefore, scientists at St. Jude are making immunotherapies to help address this challenge. Immunotherapies use a patient’s own immune cells to target cancer cells.
St. Jude scientists are studying how to use a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) to target cancer cells, an approach that attracts immune cells that can destroy cancer. So far, CAR immune cells have shown promise but not been effective enough in the clinic, especially against brain and solid tumors.
“We've come up with a new way to more efficiently and effectively bind and target cancer cells,” said first and corresponding author Peter Chockley, Ph.D., St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.
Chockley added a ‘molecular anchor’ to the CAR immune cells. Adding this structure made the immune cells more effective. It works across multiple cancer types in numerous animal models.
“The anchor domain discovery is easily translatable into early phase clinical testing,” said senior author Stephen Gottschalk, M.D., St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy chair. “It doesn't require any other new technology. We strongly believe that this approach needs to get tested in the clinic because no one has tried it before, and it looks very promising in our preclinical work.”
The results appeared in Nature Biotechnology.