Engineered immune cells enhance patients’ ability to fight tumours

Cytotoxic T cells are responsible for helping the body’s immune system destroy virus-infected and tumour cells. However, the efficacy and motility of cytotoxic T cells traveling to the tumour cell are slowed down by half the speed due to the stiffness of the tumour, making it difficult to attack the tumor. Besides chemotherapy, another type of cancer treatment is immunotherapy.

Researchers found that obstacles such as the density and architecture of tumours decrease the speed of cytotoxic T cells reaching the tumour. Thus, they used genome engineering in immunotherapy and altered the DNA of the cytotoxic T cells.

The engineered cells’ speed and efficacy of migration through different obstacles to the tumour cell were significantly increased by more than 50%. This suggests cytotoxic T cell-related functions in fighting cancer could be improved through genetic modifications.

Why it matters: Enhancing cytotoxic T cells’ migration to tumour cells helps the body’s own immune system fight tumours more efficiently by speeding up the attack on tumour cells and slowing down tumour progression. This advances current and future cancer therapies, bringing us a step closer to combating cancer.

Source: Nature