The US-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute has begun a Phase I/IIa clinical trial on a new adoptive T-cell therapy for the treatment of various types of advanced cancer.

Called TGF-beta, the trial is based on a new two-step immunotherapy strategy designed to aid the immune system in effectively attacking tumour cells.

It will include 24 patients who will have their T-cells removed using a process similar to that of platelet removal. Patients will then be given enhanced super T-cells, which contain an added component to help more effectively target and suppress cancer cells.

A single injection of enhanced T-cells will be administered in around one week. The injected T-cells are intended to act through a perpetual cell renewal and expansion process.

“A single injection of enhanced T-cells will be administered in around one week.”

Roswell Park Immunotherapy centre associate director Richard Koya said: “It’s an approach that allows the immune system to be on the offense and on the defence at the same time.

“First we arm the T-cells with a receptor to help them hunt down the cancer cells, and then we add a TGF-beta blocker to suppress the suppressor.

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“The result of this two-step gene modification, forcing expression of the receptor for NY-ESO-1, and adding a blocker gene to nullify the effect of TGF-beta is a super T-cell engineered to both more effectively kill target cancer cells and to resist the tumour’s attack.”

In preclinical studies, the new therapy was found to be effective, long-lasting, and well-tolerated.