Study Points Way to Possibly Boost CAR-T Immunotherapy Against Breast Cancer, Other Solid Tumors; Addition of STING Agonist cGAMP Reduces Tumor Growth & Enhances Survival in Mouse Model; Possible “Game-Changer” for Treatment of Solid Tumors

Boosting immune system T cells to effectively attack solid tumors, such as breast cancers, can be done by adding a small molecule to a treatment procedure called chimeric antigen receptor-T (CAR-T) cell therapy (, according to a study by researchers at the University of North Crolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The boost helps recruit more immune cells into battle at the tumor site. The findings were published online on December 31, 2020 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The JEM article is titled “STING Agonist Promotes CAR T Cell Trafficking and Persistence in Breast Cancer.” CAR-T immunotherapy, in which T cells are modified in the laboratory to express chimeric antigen receptors, CARs, that in turn target surface proteins on cancer cells, has been most effective in the treatment of patients with B-cell leukemia or lymphoma. But this new research, conducted in mouse models, points to the potential for using CAR-T therapy effectively against solid tumors as well. "We know that CAR T cells are safe for patients with solid tumors but so far they have not been able to cause significant tumor regression in the overwhelming majority of people treated," said Jonathan S. Serody, MD, the Elizabeth Thomas Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, and Immunology and Director of the Immunotherapy Program at UNC Lineberger. "Now we may have a new approach to make CAR T cells work in solid tumors, which we think could be a game-changer for therapies aimed at an appreciable number of cancers." Dr. Serody is the paper's corresponding author and Nuo Xu, PhD, formerly a graduate student at UNC Lineberger and UNC School of Medicine, is the first author.
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