T cell engineering

Cancer cells are some of nature’s most talented shapeshifters — evolving and changing to survive inside the human body. One of the few systems that can match the complexity of cancer is the human immune system, and one of its most powerful players is called a T cell. When a cancer cell circulates in the body, T cells are supposed to find signs that it’s abnormal then latch on and destroy it. But cancer cells can change in ways that trick T cells into not recognizing them. T cell engineering reverses this process by restoring a T cell’s ability to recognize and destroy cancer. To do this, T cells are removed from the cancer patient and genetically modified. The modified cells, called chimeric antigen receptor — or CAR T— cells grow in a lab for several weeks, then they are injected into the area where the patient’s tumor is growing. Once they are back inside the body, the re-engineered T cells — now primed to recognize cancer — continue multiplying, patrolling the body and destroying cancer cells. City of Hope scientists are studying this potentially powerful immune therapy to treat seven types of cancer, including brain tumors, several blood cancers and prostate cancer.

I believe that CAR T cells have dramatic potential, not only against solid tumors, but one of the most difficult to treat solid tumors — glioblastoma." Christine Brown, Ph.D.

Meet our T cell engineering experts