What is CAR-T Therapy and How Does it Work?
Normal human T cells can destroy cancer cells, but unfortunately, some cancer cells can evade the normal immune response. What if we could modify T Cells to recognize those cancer cells and destroy the cancer using our body’s own defenses rather than using radiation or chemicals? This is precisely what CAR-T Therapy aims to accomplish.
CAR stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptors. A gene to code for these receptors is inserted into T Cells via transfection. Lonza’s NucleofectionTM Technology has been cited for many studies using CAR-T cells. Here are a couple of citations for Lonza’s 4D-NucleofectorTM LV Unit with CAR-T cells.
- T cell therapies for hematologic malignancies
- Biomanufacturing for clinically advanced cell therapies
After the cells are modified, these additional receptors enable the transfected T cells to recognize and destroy the cancerous cells.
Side Effects: Unfortunately, these modified T cells can sometimes have very severe side effects. The most prominent side effect is Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS). However, this can often be mitigated through medication. There can also be neurological side effects as well, such as confusion. You can read more about side effects on Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s blog.
The treatment is not always effective, and Riddell et.al. goes into some detail regarding the challenges for the efficacy of the treatment.
It can also be time consuming, expensive, and sometime it is not possible to use the patient’s cells for the media.
The Future of CAR-T Therapy
Allogeneic treatments could potentially offer a solution in which healthy donor T cells are used for treatments. You can learn more about allogeneic CAR-T and their ease of access.
Reprogramming of the patients T Cells without removing them from the blood would be even more efficient and could potentially side step the rejection of the implanted cells. You can read more about in-situ CAR-T therapy.
Written by Joseph
Scientific Support Specialist, Lonza Pharma-Bioscience Solutions at Lonza