Cancer Biology

Approach of Targeting Cancer While Rescuing Healthy T-Cells

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer which develops due to uncontrolled growth of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are one of the several types of white blood cells and form the major part of immune system. The work of lymphocyte is to fight infection-causing germs but due to some change, lymphocyte multiplies abnormally and give rise to cancerous state i.e. lymphoma

The two main lymphocytes are B cell and T cells. The B cell produces antibodies which kill entering invaders like bacteria, viruses, toxins etc. while t cells kill own body cells which become harmful to themselves. These two cells can develop into lymphoma which is B lymphomas and T lymphomas.

Due to current development in the field of immunotherapy, B lymphoma, once a fatal diagnosis has been transformed into curable condition but for treating rarer but more aggressive T cell lymphoma, there was still a need of new therapeutic research.

The research teams working with Biopharmaceutical Company Autolus Ltd has engineered a way of saving healthy cells while targeting cancer cells. Actually what happens is T cells have molecules on their surfaces called t cell receptors which is made using one of two duplicates copies of the T cell receptor gene called C1 and C2 randomly. The T cell receptors help in recognizing the germs and removing it. When a single cell becomes cancerous it is made either of C1 or C2. Hence all the cancerous cells are either C1 or C2. But while treating cancer both C1 and C2 cells are lost. The research team has discovered a way to save healthy t cells based on whether they use C1 or C2 genes. The team explains that if C1 cells are cancerous then by targeting C1 T cells they can be killed and C2 cells are left unharmed.

Professor Andrew Sewell, Professor, Division of Infection and Immunity says that since T-cells select use of the C1 or C2 gene at random, this remaining half of T-cells are capable of providing immunity to the pathogens we encounter every day because T cell plays a vital role in providing immunity to our body. Even a loss of the number of single type of T cell from the body leads to many diseases from which HIV/Aids are the evident ones. So it is better to target cancer cell and rescuing the healthy cells than targeting all cells.

Reference:  Maciocia, Paul Michael, et al. “Targeting T-Cell Receptor β-Constant Domain for Immunotherapy of T-Cell Malignancies.” (2016): 811-811.


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