Unique Proteins in Tumor Cells Can Be Used to Generate Personalized T Cells

Researchers have developed an immunotherapy that is a potential option for children with difficult-to-treat brain cancer.

According to the results of a preclinical study, unique proteins in an individual’s tumor cells can be used to generate personalized T cells to target and kill tumors.

“This treatment presents a potential option for children with difficult-to-treat brain tumors for which all other therapeutic options have been exhausted,” said Catherine Bollard, MD, MBChB, director of the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at Children’s National. in a statement.

Researchers sequenced the DNA of small tissue samples while studying the complete set of proteins that influence cancer biology. After analyzing the data, researchers developed a T-cell immunotherapy that targets the tumor’s unique proteins and allows the T cells to distinguish between healthy and tumor cells.

Tumor cells have damaged DNA that causes mutations during the repair process. Therefore, the repairs create aberrant DNA codes for proteins that were never intended by the genetic code and that are unique to the individual’s tumor cells.

“We have developed a new filter pipeline to remove unannotated normal peptides. By targeting antigens that are completely specific for the tumor and are not expressed anywhere else in the body, the strength of tumor antigen-specific T- cell products may increase while toxicity is reduced,” Samuel Rivero-Hinojosa, PhD, staff scientist at Children’s National, said in the statement.

Once the unique peptides were identified, researchers were able to select and expand T cells to demonstrate specificity for the tumor-specific neo-antigens and the ability to kill tumor cells.

Researchers are now designing a phase 1 clinical trial, hoping to open in 12 to 18 months.

The findings are published in Nature Communications.


Personalized T-cell immunotherapy for childhood brain tumors is one step closer to reality. EurekAlert. news item. November 18, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935045

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