Curator: Meg Baker, PhD, Reg Patent Agent
Novartis provides funding for research of modified T cell treatments. Successful application of the technique was demonstrated in a clinical study led by Dr. Carl June, a pathologist at the University of Pennsylvania, for CLL (chronic lympocytic leukemia), one of the most common types of leukemia. The initial study report was in August 2011 http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2011/08/t-cells/
The concept of doctoring T-cells genetically was first developed in the 1980s by Dr. Zelig Eshhar at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. It involves adding gene sequences from different sources to enable the T-cells to produce what researchers call chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs — protein complexes that transform the cells into, in Dr. June’s words, “serial killers.” See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/health/13gene.html?pagewanted=all
Dr. June describes the new therapy as “ultrapersonalized” because the treatments involve extracting a patient’s immune cells and using deactivated HIV-1 to deliver genes into the cells, and later infusing in the re-educated cells back into patient’s system. The treatment is characterized as “training the immune system” to attack cancer. Thus, it is hoped that the technology can be applied more broadly to cancer therapy.
Read more: Novartis backs UPenn’s pioneering cancer immunotherapies – FierceBiotech http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/novartis-backs-upenns-pioneering-cancer-immunotherapies/2012-08-06#ixzz25tGYGQ9N