CAR-T Cells Recognize & Attack Human and Mouse Solid-Tumor Cancer Cells in Vitro; CAR-T Cell Therapy Has Previously Shown Effectiveness Against Blood Cancers, But Not Against Solid Tumors; Current Approach Targets Glycosylated Peptides on Solid Tumors

A method known as CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cells) therapy ( has been used successfully in patients with blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. The approach modifies a patient's own T-cells by adding a piece of an antibody that recognizes unique features on the surface of cancer cells. The potency of adoptive T cell therapies targeting the cell surface antigen CD19 has been demonstrated in hematopoietic cancers. In a new study, researchers report that they have dramatically broadened the potential targets of this approach--their engineered T-cells attack a variety of solid-tumor cancer cells from humans and mice. Heretofore, CAR-T therapy had not demonstrated effectiveness against solid tumors. The researchers, led by a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and including scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Copenhagen, reported their findings online on June 30, 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( The article is titled "Structure-Guided Engineering of the Affinity and Specificity of CARs Against Tn-Glycopeptides." [Editor’s Note: Tn antigen refers to the monosaccharide structure N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) linked to serine or threonine by a glycosidic bond (] "Cancer cells express on their surface certain proteins that arise because of different kinds of mutations," said Preeti Sharma, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the research, together with Biochemistry Professor David Kranz (, PhD, a member of the Cancer Center at Illinois and an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, also at the University of Illinois. "In this work, we were looking at protein targets that have short sugar chains attached to them."
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