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David Plaut: Off the Cuff

Chimeric Antigen Receptors

Published February 25, 2014 11:18 AM by David Plaut

Many years ago, I gave a lecture on enzyme assays in the laboratory. When I was done talking about LDH, CPK, GGT, SGOT and SGPT; it occurred to me that anyone walking into that room who wasn't a laboratorian would wonder what language we were speaking. Sometimes I feel that way when I wander too far from chemistry.

But this is such an important topic I am going try to make it understandable to all the readers. The key is the first sentence. At a recent meeting of American Society of Hematology, a study (PD-1- and CTLA-4-Based Inhibitory Chimeric Antigen Receptors (iCARs) Divert Off-Target Immunotherapy Responses. Fedorov VD, Themeli M, Sadelain M. Sci Transl Med. 2013 Dec 11;5(215):215ra172) was presented illustrating that 45 of 75 leukemia patients saw complete regressions with CARs. CARS are chimeric antigen receptors that are types of T-cells. Research at the NIH, Sloan Kettering and the University of Pennsylvania have been working toward this for a number of years. They still admittedly have more to do as at present, the cells they use are highly specific for only a few cancers.

We know also that T-cells can be very destructive when they attack targets found on both tumors and healthy cells. One large pharmaceutical company has invested heavily in the project and this year there will be clinical trials at the three research institutions on other cancers.

posted by David Plaut

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