CAR T Laboratory Research Yields Promising Prostate Cancer Results

April 17, 2018 | by Letisia Marquez

City of Hope physicians have successfully treated blood cancers with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, and they are working to expand that therapy to patients with solid tumors.

But in order to make that happen, research needs to take place in a laboratory to test the effectiveness of new CAR T therapies and also the CAR design, which consists of the different components of a CAR T cell.

CAR T cell therapy involves taking immune cells known as T cells from a patient’s bloodstream, reprogramming them in a laboratory to recognize and attack a specific protein found in cancer cells, then reintroducing them into a patient’s system, where they get to work destroying targeted tumor cells.

“Developing a CAR T cell therapy for solid tumors is particularly challenging because they need to first reach the solid tumor and then survive in a harsh microenvironment that is filled with cancer cells and other cells that make up the tumor mass,” said Saul Priceman, Ph.D., assistant research professor in City of Hope's Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Priceman and his research team compared different CAR designs that would critically impact the T cell’s ability to fight prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bone. Their research, which used preclinical animal models, was published in a recent edition of OncoImmunology.

The research ultimately identified a specific CAR design that allowed for optimal cytokine production (chemical messengers that help enhance the antitumor activity of a CAR T cell) and destruction of prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA)-positive prostate cancers by the CAR T cells.

“These CAR T cells homed to prostate cancer cells in the bone, expanded there and demonstrated robust antitumor responses,” said Priceman, the study’s lead author.

The therapy also allowed these T cells to persist for a longer period of time and kill multiple tumor cells, compared with other therapies.

“T cells, once they kill, can also die. We like to equate it to a bee sting — if a bee stings, it then dies. But a CAR T cell has to be able to kill multiple tumor cells and survive a period of time in order to control the tumor,” Priceman said.
  
The research laid the groundwork for a CAR T cell clinical trial for patients with bone metastatic prostate cancer to start in 2018 at City of Hope; the institution would be one of the first cancer centers in the nation to offer a CAR T cell trial for advanced prostate cancer.

“It helped us generate evidence that our CAR T cell may be therapeutically effective in these patients,” Priceman said.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation funded the study. Priceman's research is supported by a generous gift from Barbara and Zach Horowitz and Gary Marsh and Jody Horowitz Marsh. 

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If you are looking for a second opinion about your prostate cancer diagnosis or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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