While T cells possess natural cancer-fighting abilities, equipping them with CARs (chimeric antigen receptors) makes them much more effective at targeting cancer-associated proteins. Already CAR T cells have provided remarkable benefits for leukemia and lymphoma patients, and now they’re being used in clinical trials to treat solid tumors too. However, current CAR T cells can’t discriminate between cancer cells that express high levels of target proteins and healthy cells that express low levels, and this can cause toxicity and off-target effects. Therefore, Dr. Rogelio Antonio Hernandez-Lopez is applying the principles of physical biochemistry and synthetic biology to this emerging area to design new T cell receptors that specifically attack only the cancer cells (i.e. only the cells expressing high levels of target proteins). By doing so, he aims to provide powerful advances in the field of engineered T cell immunotherapy that could be combined with other immunotherapy approaches to provide benefits to even more patients.
Projects and Grants
Engineering antigen density sensors for T cell immunotherapy
University of California, San Francisco | All Cancers | 2017 | Wendell Lim, Ph.D.
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