Immune cells with DNMT3A gene modifications (SJ-16-0009)

St. Jude Reference #SJ-16-0009


Chemotherapy is the standard of care for the treatment of many types of cancer, but alternative methods are needed when chemotherapy is not effective. T cell therapy is one increasingly effective alternative treatment, which uses the human immune system to attack cancerous cells by finding specific proteins expressed on certain cancerous hematological cells. For example, T cells altered to bind CD19 can induce remissions of cancer with chemotherapy-refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 

Researchers at St. Jude discovered the DNMT3A gene in immune cells may be used in adoptive T cell therapies to enhance immune responses against cancer or chronic infections by deleting, changing, or inserting nucleotides within the DNMT3A gene in immune cells. Modified DNMT3A cells can be engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) specific to a cancer or chronic pathogen, and transferred to a patient for treatment in combination with immune checkpoint blockade therapies. In addition to T cells, this could be used in other immune cells with various antibodies to overcome cancer, or chronic viral and/or bacterial infection.


Cancer, T cell therapy, immune system, hematological cells, DNMT3A gene, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), chronic viral and/or bacterial infection.

Granted patents or published applications

Issue US Patent 11,020,430 and additional pending applications

Related scientific references

Knocking out specific gene prevents T-cell exhaustion, boosts CAR T-cell responses

Brooke Prinzing et al, Deleting DNMT3A in CAR T cells prevents exhaustion and enhances antitumor activity, Science Translational Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abh0272

Licensing opportunities

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