A Northeastern researcher in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the New England Inflammation and Tissue Protection Institute (NEITPI) says his lab has employed a novel gene editing technology that might make personalized treatments for cancer available “off the shelf” against solid tumors.
The platform is called base editing, says Stephen Hatfield, assistant professor at Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.
He says it allows multiple gene edits of cancer-fighting immune cells called CAR T cells without causing substantial DNA damage.
Enhancing a cancer killer
CAR T cell treatments have been on the market since 2017 and are considered a valuable tool in fighting blood cancers such as leukemia, particularly recurring cases.
They are genetically engineered to find hidden cancer cells in tumors and kill them.
However, to date they have been unsuccessful at eliminating solid cancers, likely due to resistance of CAR T cells to conditions in the tumor microenvironment, Hatfield says.
“One big problem with CAR T cells is they are patient specific,” Hatfield says.