Scientists Accidentally Discover Cell That Kills Most Cancers

"It attacks cancer cells and ignores healthy cells." The discovery of a new type of immune cell receptor could pave the wa...

"It attacks cancer cells and ignores healthy cells."

The discovery of a new type of immune cell receptor could pave the way for a new type of therapy using T cells, capable of attacking a wide range of cancers in human patients without requiring personalized treatment.


A type of white blood cell involved in the functioning of our immune system, T lymphocytes , or T cells, are activated on contact with defective or foreign cells, and help us fight infections and diseases. Called CAR-T , the therapy most commonly used today to treat cancer will consist in diverting and increasing this natural function of T cells so that they target tumor cells first. To do this, doctors will extract T lymphocytes from patients' blood, genetically manipulate them so that they identify and target cancer cells, then have them multiply in the laboratory before re-administering them.
The CAR-T method has its limits, however: the modified T cells are only able to recognize a few types of cancer, and the entire therapy must be adapted to the patient due to a T cell receptor called human leukocyte antigen ( HLA ) and allowing T cells to detect cancer cells, varying from patient to patient. But this obstacle could be overcome, following the discovery made by researchers from the University of Cardiff and recently presented in the journal Nature Immunology .
Using the CRISPR-Cas9 genome modification tool , they identified a new receptor molecule in T cells, called MR1 . Operating in a similar way to HLA when it comes to identifying cancer cells, MR1 has the advantage of not varying from one individual to another, which means that it could potentially form the basis of a therapy involving T cells but working for a much wider range of individuals.


Although we are not there yet, preliminary experiments involving the MR1 molecule , carried out in the laboratory on human cells and rodents, have shown promise. In the first case, T cells with MR1 receptors destroyed the different types of cancer cells tested (lung, melanoma, leukemia, colon, breast, prostate, bone and ovary) not sharing a common HLA ", write Researchers. While tests on mice with leukemia showed signs of cancer regression and allowed the treated rodents to live longer than the control specimens.
For British scientists, the next step will be to learn more about the mechanisms by which MR1 identifies cancer cells at the molecular level , in addition to clinical trials in the coming months If they admit that there is still a long way to go before the development of a possible “ universal cancer treatment ” in humans, their discovery opens the way to revolutionary therapies.
Targeting cancer with this type of T cell offers promising new perspectives ," said Andrew Sewell , lead author of the study and specialist in immunotherapy. “ This discovery suggests the possibility that only one type of T cell can be used to fight many cancers. Before, no one thought it was possible . "



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WikiFortress: Scientists Accidentally Discover Cell That Kills Most Cancers
Scientists Accidentally Discover Cell That Kills Most Cancers
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