Gene-altering cancer drug approved by the FDA

By CCAB - September 21, 2017 10:26 am (leave your thoughts)

Gene-altering cancer drug approved by the FDA 

chimeric antigen receptor technologies CAR T-cell therapy

Activating T cells and B cells in the immune system (Photo credit: iStock)

A radical new form of cancer therapy based on genetically reprogramming the body’s immune system is being described as a “breakthrough” and “revolutionary” by the medical and scientific communities.

Known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy, this treatment involves extracting T-cells from a patient’s immune system and engineering them to target cancer cells. In the laboratory, scientists genetically modify the harvested cells by adding chimeric antigen receptors on their surface. The modification transforms these T-cells into highly-specific and powerful cancer hunters.

CARs enable T-cells to more easily identify cancer cells by helping them recognize the tumour antigens present on the surface of cancer cells. The modified cells are multiplied in the laboratory and then re-infused into the patient, where the added CARs trigger the T-cells to find and kill cancer cells.

The first-of-its-kind therapy was recently in the headlines after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), an aggressive form of leukemia that has resisted treatment or has relapsed.

CCAB offers opportunities to collaborate on CAR-T research

As with all promising research that could lead to improved therapies, many scientists are trying to better understand how CAR-T therapy works and improve and expand its effectiveness against other cancers, as well as against infectious and autoimmune diseases. Currently, there are nearly 200 ongoing CAR-T clinical trials worldwide. CCAB is currently working with industry and academic partners on CAR-T projects and is seeking additional partners for immunotherapy projects.

While there are important differences among the various CAR-T trials, a common feature is that the CARs on engineered T-cells’ surface must incorporate highly-specific antibodies designed to attach to specific tumour antigens on tumour cells.

CCAB has extensive expertise in the production of synthetic antibodies and with issues relating to CAR T-cell therapy. CCAB’s academic research partner, the Toronto Recombinant Antibody Centre (TRAC), has a state-of-the-art protein engineering research platform that allows for the generation of therapeutic grade antibodies against virtually any target. Through TRAC, CCAB has access to an extensive portfolio of high-value antibodies against hundreds of antigens associated with cancers, inflammation, and neurological, autoimmune, infectious and respiratory diseases. These antibodies can be immediately used by CCAB partners for proof-of-concept projects.

By building antibodies with therapeutic purposes in mind, CCAB aims to help our partners move promising projects more quickly through the drug development pipeline.

Interested in learning more or partnering with us? Contact us.


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