Despite the success of CAR-T cell therapy for patients with relapsed leukaemia and lymphoma, success for patients with “solid tumours” – that is, cancers – has been slower in coming. However, three recent innovations will change this quickly.
First, new ways to engage antigens (proteins) on many cancers with CAR-T cells have been found, leading to increased destruction of the cancer. For example, treating cancers to reduce sugars on their surface increases engagement 10 to 15 fold.
Second, new proteins that are on the surface of cancers which were previously hard-to-treat with CAR-T cells have been found. For example, the B7-H3 protein may be on 2 out of 3 cancers, and engages well with CAR-T cells to enable them to attack the cancer.
Third, ways to keep CAR-T cells alive and growing, so they keep attacking cancer, have been discovered. For example, by activating a protein called c-jun.
Within the next year, all three of these techniques should be incorporated in new clinical trials of CAR-T therapy, available to patients with a wide array of cancers.