Unique Proteins in Tumor Cells Can Be Used to Generate Personalized T Cells

Investigators have developed an immunotherapy that is a potential option for children with hard-to-treat brain cancer.

Unique proteins in an individual’s tumor cells can be used to generate personalized T cells to target and kill tumors, according to the results of a pre-clinical study.

“This treatment will offer a potential option for children with hard-to-treat brain tumors for which all other therapeutic options have been exhausted,” Catherine Bollard, MD, MBChB, director of the center for cancer and immunology research at Children’s National, said in a statement.

Investigators sequenced the DNA of small tissue samples, while studying its complete set of proteins that influence cancer biology. After analyzing the data, investigators developed a T cell immunotherapy that targets the tumor’s unique proteins and allows the T cells to distinguish between healthy and tumor cells.

Tumor cells have damaged DNA that create mutations during the repair process. Therefore, the repairs create aberrant DNA codes for proteins that were never intended by the genetic code and are unique to the individual’s tumor cells.

“We developed a new filtering pipeline to remove non-annotated normal peptides. Targeting antigens that are completely specific to the tumor, and expressed nowhere else in the body, will potentially increase the strength of tumor antigen-specific T cell products while decreasing the toxicity,” Samuel Rivero-Hinojosa, PhD, staff scientist at Children’s National, said in the statement.

Once the unique peptides were identified, investigators could select and expand T cells to show which specificity for the tumor specific neoantigens and the ability to kill tumor cells.

Investigators are now designing a phase 1 clinical trial, hoping to open in 12 to 18 months.

The findings were published in Nature Communications.

Reference

Personalized T cell immunotherapy for pediatric brain tumors is one step closer to becoming a reality. EurekAlert. News release. November 18, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/935045