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Inducible safety for anti-cancer T cells

By Alexander McLellan

Cancer treatment has been revolutionised by the development of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.

Associate Professor Alexander McLellan, University of Otago

CAR T cells attack and kill cancer cells that are recognised by the CAR. Unfortunately, a major side effect of this treatment is a life-threatening cytokine release syndrome (CRS) caused by the release of inflammatory cytokines. Although the mainstay treatment for CRS is glucocorticoids, these can destroy the adoptively transferred T cells, leading to the failure of an expensive and potentially life-saving treatment.

This project will develop a system to change T cell activation and prevent the onset of CRS. The system will use synthetic promoters and a control 'switch' within the CAR T cell to enhance T cell safety. These automated promoter-switches will make cell-therapy much safer for people with cancer.