June 16, 2024

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Scientists discover super-killer T cells in patients who beat cancer

Scientists discover super-killer T cells in patients who beat cancer



 

Scientists discover super-killer T cells in patients who beat cancer

 

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown type of immune cell that forms in people who successfully fight cancer.

Unlike other killer T cells, the cells can attack multiple cancer-related targets simultaneously, preventing the formation of new tumors for up to a year and potentially leading to more effective cancer treatments.

 

Our immune system is the first line of defense against pathogens or diseases, including cancer, but sometimes it needs a little help. That’s the basis behind an emerging therapeutic field — immunotherapy, which involves removing immune cells from a patient, boosting them and sending them back into the body to rejuvenate them to attack cancer.

 

In the new study, Cardiff University researchers investigated biological differences that may exist in different patients during successful and unsuccessful treatments.

Over the past decade, they’ve followed phase I and II clinical trials of so-called tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapies, which target white blood cells that are already at work in patients’ tumors.

 

The researchers focused on patients who had successfully cleared their cancer after receiving treatment.

They exposed patients’ blood samples to tumor cells previously taken from the same patients, and found that even a year after entering remission, the survivors’ killer T cells showed a very strong response.

 

Scientists discover super-killer T cells in patients who beat cancer

 

 

 

They used algorithms to predict what targets these T cells would recognize, based on the differences between healthy and cancerous cells.

Scientists were surprised to find that T cells from patients with advanced cancer were able to recognize multiple protein changes in cancer cells. In contrast, it is generally assumed that each T cell targets only one protein at a time.

 

Professor Andy Seaver, lead researcher on the study, said: “The study shows that cancer survivors’ multi-pronged killer T cells are much better at recognizing cancer than normal cancer-fighting killer T cells.

Furthermore, the ability to respond to multiple cancer-associated proteins simultaneously means that these T cells can respond to most types of cancer, as a cancer need only express one of these aberrant targets to be recognized as dangerous and killed.”

 

As a result, the team found large numbers of these multi-pronged T cells in the blood of patients who had successfully cleared their cancer, but not in patients whose cancer had progressed.

 

Future work is needed to definitively demonstrate the link between these T cells and cancer clearance, the team said. Understanding the targets of these immune cells should also help improve other cancer treatments.

 

Dr Garry Dolton, lead author of the study, said: “We’ve now seen multipronged T cells in multiple cancer survivors, so it will be interesting to investigate whether these cells are associated with good prognosis.

The key to the next step. In addition to this, we can also genetically engineer these T cells in the laboratory. Therefore, we hope to investigate whether engineered multi-pronged T cells can be used to treat various cancers, Just like engineered CAR-T cells are now used to treat certain types of leukemia. This research is still a few years away, but we are encouraged by the results so far.”

 

The research was published in the journal Cell.

 

 

 

 

 

Scientists discover super-killer T cells in patients who beat cancer

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