We conduct research into cell immunotherapy treatments for patients with advanced malignant blood disorders, who tend to have a very short life expectancy. To treat such patients, we develop CAR-T and CAR-NK therapies based on adding chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) to cells of the immune system, such as T-lymphocytes and NK cells, respectively. CARs help recognize and attack tumour cells exclusively, specifically and effectively, thereby preventing an autoimmune response and reducing secondary effects on healthy cells.
Former research from our group focused on the cytotoxicity mechanisms of CB-NK cells when they come into contact with MM tumor cells, in order to fight them. We discovered that they were able to regulate the cytotoxic or attack mechanisms depending on the characteristics of each tumor cell.
Later on, we started developing CART cells against BCMA to treat MM patients and achieved good results. We are currently improving cell immunotherapy treatments by combining CART with CB-NK cells. Moreover, we are studying how and why some tumor cells develop resistance to these therapies, with the aim of suppressing this resistance capacity.
We are studying what happens at a molecular level between CART and CB-NK cells throughout the process of recognizing, contacting and attacking tumour cells in order to identify which proteins and defence strategies are used by CART, CB-NK and other cells in the immune system. Moreover, we are examining what happens within the environment of the cells when they meet tumour cells. This knowledge will help us develop better strategies to improve the efficacy of these therapies.
Through our research, we aim to achieve the best possible scenario: to cure patients and ensure that they do not relapse.
If we manage to enhance the efficacy of the CAR-T therapy and its permanence in patients to protect them from relapses, this breakthrough could be applied to patients with types of cancer other than MM. Therefore, through our research we hope to answer the following questions:
- How are tumour cell resistance mechanisms against immune cells developed?
- How can these tumour cell resistance mechanisms against immune cells be avoided?
- How can the persistence and efficacy of CART cell treatment be increased?