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Penn study finds more effective approach against 'Achilles' heel' of ovarian cancer
Date:8/8/2011

imeric antigen receptor - that combines the specificity of an antibody with the T cell signaling portions from two different proteins that stimulate the immune system to recognize ovarian cancer cells. These added signaling protein pieces give the engineered T cells the extra survival signals they need to do their job.

Two Birds, One Stone T Cells

The double-barreled cells are engineered to multiply, survive, recognize, and kill ovarian tumors. The modified T cells are expanded for two weeks in the lab, and then tested for reactivity by exposing them to human ovarian cancer cells to see if they destroy the cancer cells. Researchers also test for effectiveness by measuring cytokine production by the T cells, a sign of inflammation produced by the engineered T cells when killing cancer cells.

The new second generation engineered cells were successful in many ways. They were resistant to cancer-induced cell death: Fewer new T cells died when exposed to cancer cells, compared to the older technology. The new T cells also multiply better and survive; therefore their numbers increase over time in test-tube experiments and in the mouse model.

A clinical trial using these T cells is pending with George Coukos, MD, Director of the Ovarian Cancer Research Center at Penn and the trial's principal investigator. Penn is the only study site identified to date. Investigators aim to recruit up to 21 patients with advanced recurrent ovarian cancer whose tumors express the alpha-folate receptor.

"This technology represents a promising advancement for the treatment of women with ovarian cancer," Powell says, "But we will continue to work around the clock to improve this approach using other costimulatory portions and antibody-like proteins to make this the most powerful and safe approach for the treatment of the greatest number of women with this horrible disease."


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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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