May 20, 2019 Stephen Copeman

CAR-T cell therapy for breast and prostate cancers

Breast and prostate cancers are usually dependent on hormones (oestrogen and testosterone, respectively) for their growth.  But, these hormones have another role, in switching off the body’s immune system – so that it doesn’t attack these tissues.

Switching off the immune system from attacking oestrogenised-tissues, such as the womb, is crucial to keeping developing babies protected from their mother’s immune system – which otherwise would be at risk of damaging babies before their birth.

Recently, new ways of bypassing the switch-off of immune systems against breast and prostate cancers have been found.  For breast cancers, inhibiting a key protein called TGFbeta receptor helps change the cancer so CAR-T cells can attack it.

For prostate cancers, using different white blood T cells called gamma-delta T cells, in conjunction with a bone-protecting drug called zoledronic acid, seems to help improve the ability of CAR-T cells to attack the cancer.