A strategy to treat neuroblastoma using the patient's immune cells is published online in Nature Medicine.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), a type of immune cell that can be directed to fight cancer cells, do not survive long term and have limited antitumour activity within the body. This is partly because the target tumour cells typically lack appropriate co-stimulatory molecules that enhance the effectiveness of the CTLs. Malcolm Brenner and his colleagues have now overcome this limitation by engineering CTLs to express an antigen receptor directed to GD2, a tumor-associated molecule expressed by human neuroblastoma cells. The authors reasoned that these CTLs would receive optimal co-stimulation, enhancing their survival and antitumour activity mediated through the GD2 receptors.
Studying patients with neuroblastoma, the authors find that CTLs expressing the GD2-specific receptor indeed survived longer than control T lymphocytes. Infusion of these engineered cells had no adverse effects and was associated with tumour regression in half of the subjects tested. This leads to the conclusion that CTLs could be a powerful weapon for combating neuroblastoma, and perhaps other tumors, in people.
Malcolm Brenner (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
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