Researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a way to genetically engineer immune cells to find and treat brain tumors. While this is an early preclinical study, their discoveries have the potential to change the way glioblastoma and other brain cancers are treated.
This research project originally developed through the Lineberger Center as an effort to develop immunotherapies for cancer. The program’s aim is to genetically engineer immune cells to find and attack a variety of cancers cells. The research team, however, is focusing specifically on a type of immunotherapy being used to treat brain cancer.
Lineberger researcher Gianpietro Dotti led the team in the research and development of the genetically engineered cells. The immune cells they modified are able to specifically hunt tumors that display antigens commonly found in brain tumors.
“We found this antigen that is called CSPG4 that is expressed in a significant fraction of these tumors,” Dotti said.
The prevalence of CSPG4 found in brain tumors is what encouraged researchers to continue their work in developing a way to attack it. The researchers are looking to apply this new treatment to glioblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer.