OCT 14, 2016 11:14 AM PDT

T Cell Infusion Method Enhances Anti-Cancer Effect

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Enhancing a cancer patient’s own T cells to reduce tumor growth is an up-and-coming cancer therapy that is being used to treat multiple types of tumor growth. A new study from the Medical University of South Carolina, in collaboration with Loyola University, offers a new way to insure that the enhanced T cells survived once they re-enter the body.
Credit: Medical University of South Carolina
Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) began as an immune-boosting cancer treatment as scientists began infusing autologous, melanoma-specific T cells obtained from the patient’s own supply of cells. After obtaining the cells, researchers genetically modify them with therapeutic receptors, activate them, and then stimulate them to proliferating before facilitating a therapeutic re-infusion back into the patient’s bloodstream. 

Unfortunately, rapid proliferation before reinfusion makes T cells increasingly prone to activation induced cell death (AICD), and the best results only occur when the transferred enhanced T cells survive. Fast-forward to this study and the authors’ current goals: how can they prevent AICD to enhance ACT’s effectiveness at targeting cancer, mainly melanoma? After extensive experimentation, they found that culturing the T cells in N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) before re-infusion protects them from AICD, making the immunotherapy increasingly effective and outcomes much more promising in a preclinical model of melanoma.

The collaborative effort led to the researchers seeing significant improvements in T cell persistence and overall outcomes when they added NAC to the in vitro T cell expansion culture. Apparently, NAC prevents increases in a DNA damage marker called yH2AX. Specifically, 40 percent of NAC-cultured T cells were detectable in tumors post-re-infusion as compared to only 1.2 percent of standard-culture T cells. 

"We were really surprised," said senior author of the recent Cancer Research study Christina Voelkel-Johnson, PhD, from the Medical University of South Carolina. "Given the harsh environment T cells encounter within tumors, we did not expect that the number of NAC-cultured T cells would be 33-fold higher than T cells not cultured in NAC." Plus, in mice models, they saw a significant delay of tumor growth in mice receiving T cell re-infusion after being cultured in NAC.

Their studies show that NAC culture reduces the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which reduces the amount of damage done to the DNA through an extensive molecular pathway of kinases, tumor proteins, and antibodies. When less DNA damage occurs in T cells, the body’s regulatory cells don’t have to make a choice between repair and cell death, reducing the overall rate of T cells destroyed because of DNA damage.

Next up: how does NAC culturing of T cells affect their phenotype? How does it work? In Voelkel-Johnson’s words: “There may be benefits to culturing T cells in NAC aside from generating AICD resistance that we haven't yet recognized."

More about melanoma:

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes. It’s less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but it’s more dangerous because it is more likely to metastasize if not treated early. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than ten thousand people in the United States will die from melanoma in 2016.
 


Sources: Medical University of South Carolina, American Cancer Society
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
FEB 07, 2020
Neuroscience
FEB 07, 2020
Eating Fruits and Vegetables May Lower Alzheimer's Risk
New research has found that flavonols, a large class of compounds present in many fruits and vegetables, may be linked t ...
FEB 23, 2020
Immunology
FEB 23, 2020
New discovery could help preterm babies breathe easy
Babies born more than three weeks before full term are met with complicated and often life-threatening health challenges ...
APR 09, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 09, 2020
Does Hydroxychloroquine Really Work Against COVID-19?
Although US President Donald Trump is a strong supporter of antimalarial drug Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVI ...
APR 15, 2020
Immunology
APR 15, 2020
How Malaria Protects Itself from the Immune System
A specific parasitic species causes the most deaths from malaria: Plasmodium falciparum. This parasite does so by avoidi ...
MAY 23, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 23, 2020
The FDA Yanks Some COVID-19 Antibody Tests From the Market
The massive demand for diagnostic testing led the FDA to open a short window for many testing products to go to market w ...
MAY 26, 2020
Immunology
MAY 26, 2020
The Hunt for Rare Immune Cells, to InfinityFlow and Beyond
The immune landscape is staggeringly complex, with a myriad of genetically and functionally distinct immune cell subpopu ...
Loading Comments...