The above pictures show how the second-generation T-cell receptor-engineered T-cell (TCR-T) successfully deals with tumor cells. Photo courtesy of KAIST

Korean team vies to help people with terminal cancers

A team of scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a second-generation immune therapy designed to help people suffering from terminal cancers, according to the South Korean university on April 20.

The team, headed by Prof. Kim Chan-hyuk, said that they had discovered ways of effectively dealing with solid tumors by modifying genes.

For the therapy, dubbed the T-cell receptor-engineered T-cell (TCR-T), the team took advantage of CRISPR/Cas9, a specific, efficient, and versatile technology to edit genes.

The highly-lauded technology is designed to help scientists edit genes by precisely cutting DNA and letting natural repair processes take over.

The KAIST team learned that its new therapy had exhibited clinical outcomes based on superior antitumor activity in a mouse xenograft model.

“Compared to the first-generation Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy based on the first-generation, the second-generation one has been praised as a miraculous anti-cancer treatment for its high success rate,” a KAIST official said.

“But the therapy’s use has been limited mostly to some leukemias and not useful in fighting against solid tumors. Prof. Kim’s team has dealt with the problems.”

The team hoped that the new therapy would give hope to patients of terminal cancers, the most-feared killer of nature.

The findings were featured in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer early this month.