One of the major problems that we are facing today is the fast spreading cancer. Although cancer is not epidemic, yet it is being caused to the people really fast. Scientists are trying hard to find an effective treatment that might be cheap as well. Immunotherapy treatments have been found very active against cancers. Imperial College London researchers led by Professor Anastasios Karadimitris have used CAR19-iNKT, a genetically engineered version of a natural killer T-cell which is a kind of ‘supercharged’ immune cell to kill cancer cells.
Other CAR-T therapies are tailor-made, so they cost around £300,000 per patient. But, the CAR19-iNKT breakthrough could mark the next generation of CAR-T therapies as it costs around £30,000 for a single batch of immune cells that can be used on multiple patients. Pioneering CAR-T treatments are personalized as the immune cell is isolated from the patient, reprogrammed to target cancer cells, multiplied in the laboratory and returned to the patient. The trials are successful in some patients, while the others faced lethal side effects.
After achieving success in mice trials, CAR19-iNKT is now being considered for human trials. The ‘supercharged’ immune cell holds promise as a new cancer therapy, especially for lymphoma. The long-term survival rate in mice with lymphoma is about 90% with CAR19-iNKT as compared to 60% with CAR-T. CAR19-iNKT therapy involves iNKT immune cell that does not require to be matched to the patient making it therapeutically more effective than CAR-T. CAR19-iNKT cells are also active against brain tumors and can further be tested against prostate and ovarian cancers.
Director of research at the blood cancer research charity Bloodwise, Dr. Alasdair Rankin considered CAR19-iNKT treatment a holy grail of CAR therapy as it offers highly effective, cheap and mass-producing anti-cancer immune cells that could save the lives of numerous patients.