We have the knowledge and the tools to generate effective cancer therapies. We must not be afraid to break down barriers. Put the patient at the center. And always remember who we want to be and where we want to go.
Cellular immunotherapy is a very effective therapy for the treatment of some blood cancers. It is based on the genetic modification of cells in the immune system so that they learn to recognise tumours as foreign bodies, which is known as CAR T-cell therapy.
Although CAR T-cell therapy can be curative in patients with some blood cancers, its potential for curing other types of tumours, such as solid tumours, has not yet been demonstrated. In these cases, it is necessary to seek strategies so that the CAR T-cells reach the tumour, manage to survive once there, and eliminate it.
In order to increase the effectiveness of CAR T-cell therapy, it is necessary to understand the causes that give rise to the loss of the functions of the CAR T-cells, and the tumour’s escape mechanisms. At the laboratory, we use different models and techniques to study the limitations of CAR-T therapies.
Secondly, we use genetic engineering to add or eliminate genes from CAR T-cells, in order for these to be more powerful and safer. These modifications can include the addition of a second CAR receptor, the modification of CARS to add more characteristics to them, or the use of gene editing techniques.
We are generating dual CAR T-cells capable of attacking blood tumours through two different points to prevent them from escaping.
As regards the treatment of solid tumours, we have learned that CAR T-cells lose their functions shortly after reaching the tumour. The study of the mechanisms behind this loss of functions enables us to use genetic engineering to design more powerful CAR T-cells.
Finally, we are working hand in hand with oncologists, haematologists, immunologists, and pharmacologists from the Clínic Barcelona so that the new CAR T therapies developed reach patients as quickly as possible.