New treatments for lymphoma: CAR-T therapy
Recent exciting advances have shown that when immune cells called T cells are engineered with genes called chimeric antigen receptors (CAR), they can target selectively molecules that are found on the surface of cancer cells and thus exert a potent anti-cancer effect. The aim of my project is to modify a specific subgroup of T cells called invariant NKT (iNKT) cells with a CAR that will target CD19, a molecule found on the surface of incurable blood cancers called B cell lymphomas. The novelty of my approach is in the fact that CD19-CAR-iNKT cells will be able to target not only CD19 but also CD1d. CD1d is the natural target of iNKT cells and is highly expressed on the surface of incurable lymphomas. Thus, by endowing them with a CD19 CAR, I expect that dual targeting (i.e., against CD19 and CD1d) iNKT cells will exert a powerful anti-lymphoma effect, possibly more powerful than ordinary CAR-T cells.