Cancer fighting T cells already present in our blood may hold the key to fighting tumours in prostate cancer, replacing the need for invasive surgery.
Research from the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI), has found that activated T cells delivered to a localised area enhances their cancer killing potential. This is particularly effective when treating the early stages of prostate and breast cancers, which develop in a confined space.
Following successful outcomes in the lab by the BHI’s Dr Irene Zinonos and team led by Prof Andreas Evdokiou, more funding is now needed to progress the findings to human clinical trials.
“Cancer fighting T cells hold great promise for the treatment of many cancers as part of our immune defence mechanism against malignant cells,” Dr Zinonos said.
“However, they only appear in our blood in very small numbers.”
The small numbers of T cells already present in the blood are unable to naturally fight highly dividing, aggressive and hormone driven cancers like breast and prostate.
But Dr Zinonos and her colleagues have found that by capturing a patient’s T cells, expanding their numbers in a lab and then targeting them back into the affected area, their cancer fighting ability improves.
“Local delivery of these T cells in large numbers increases their anti-cancer potential against prostate cancer cells, before the cancer cells advance and become aggressive and spread to other organs.
“We expect the T cells to migrate in large numbers, killing cancer cells in the local vicinity while leaving normal cells unharmed.”
This innovative approach hopes to replace the current process of removing the cancer through surgery, which is dangerous and has significant complications.
“Our approach is non-invasive, effective and safe, and given our exciting data thus far, we are confident that the results from this study will provide support and justification to move towards clinical application,” Dr Zinonos said.
“Without the funding support our research simply cannot continue. The ongoing contribution from donors is vital in our research and we cannot thank them enough for their support.”