The Cellular Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy Group is focused on the study of genetically modified T-cells expressing chimeric antigen-specific receptors (CARs) and their clinical application in patients with blood cancer.
Blood malignancies, like leukemia and lymphoma, are challenging diseases affecting one or more blood cell lineages. Traditional treatments include chemotherapy to deplete altered cells as much as possible, followed by bone marrow transplantation from a compatible donor, when appropriate.
The group currently focuses on studying T-cells genetically modified with chimeric antigen-specific receptors (CARs) and their clinical application in patients with blood cancer. Its current lines of research concentrate on the following aspects of cellular immunotherapy:
Functional antitumour research into subtypes of memory T-cells.
Study of the antitumour efficacy of memory stem T-cells genetically modified with CARs.
Development of new CARs targeted against haematological malignancies.
Development of clinical immunotherapy trials with CAR T-cells on patients with lymphoid neoplasms.
Recently, a new and powerful immune cell type has been discovered called memory stem T cells. These are scarce but very special and, despite being roughly a 1% of the cells in our blood, they can find, attack and destroy cancer cells very efficiently. We have developed mechanisms to expand memory stem T cells in the lab and grow them in greater numbers, to make their action more potent and long-lasting.
Also, the genetic modification of patient-derived memory stem T cells to make them express CAR receptors, the so-called CAR-T therapy, is proving an enhanced anti leukemic potential in the clinical trials.