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Genetic modification of your blood could be the silver bullet of cancerous tumors

January 22, 2020

January 22, 2020

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Genetic modification of your blood could be the silver bullet of cancerous tumors

Personalised medicine seems to be the way of the future; where patients receive tailored treatments to suit their individual needs and biometric traits. Medicine and healthcare have been slow to catch up with other sectors that have been personalising their offerings for a number of years now, primarily because of the complexity and regulatory considerations surrounding advances in medicine.

Personalised medicine seems to be the way of the future; where patients receive tailored treatments to suit their individual needs and biometric traits. Medicine and healthcare have been slow to catch up with other sectors that have been personalising their offerings for a number of years now, primarily because of the complexity and regulatory considerations surrounding advances in medicine.

Broadly, the concept isn’t a new idea, and medical professionals have sought to offer treatments that are as bespoke as possible. However, they have often been limited in the cases of rarer and more serious diseases, where the breadth of treatment options has been limited by the extent of our knowledge and understanding.

Humanity, throughout history, has displayed an irrepressible desire to progress, and potentially the latest leap forward comes in the form of a cancer treatment that could offer a uniquely personal solution.

This is a potential treatment that harnesses the body’s incredible immune system, leveraging our natural defenses, aiding them in the fight. Researchers are seeking to focus and then utilise these functions to the best of their abilities, which in this case is targeting the CAR-T cells to be able to recognise the specific markers on the outside of cancerous cells so they know what to attack.

CAR-T cell therapy works by:

  1. Taking the cancer patient’s own blood and isolating their immune cells (T cells).
  2. Genetically modifying these T cells with a receptor that enables it to specifically recognize and kill cancerous cells in the body. These “homing signal” receptors are called chimeric antigen receptors (CAR). Added onto immune cells called T-cells, they form CAR-T cells, now equipped to recognize and kill cancerous cells.
  3. These are expanded into millions of CAR-T cells.
  4. CAR-T cells are injected back into the patient, where – like trained assassins – they locate and then kill cancer cells.

In a further boost, harnessing the properties of the patient’s natural immune system, these CAR-T cells later produce “memory T cells” – meaning that these assassins hang around the body, ready to find and kill any cancer cells that may return.

CAR-T cell technology is at the very cutting edge of cancer technology, but it is by no means a hypothetical solution: the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the professional organisation representing physicians of all oncology specialties in the US and worldwide, named CAR-T therapy its “Advance of the Year for 2018”.  Furthermore, two CAR-T therapies have completed clinical studies and are now approved for sale – both targeting certain blood cancers.

CAR-T cell therapy has been extensively tested on certain blood cancers, producing some truly incredible results. In trials on B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, tests produced up to a 90% complete remission rate, potentially representing an outstanding prospect for sufferers of such a tragic condition. These success rates were previously unheard of before CAR-T

However, there has been a hiatus in translating this CAR-T success into other cancers.  Some hurdles include the lengthy production time and significant costs of manufacturing; a lack of appropriate antigens to target, and the fact that tumours evolve and “shed” antigens, thus eventually becoming resistant.

Clearly, the first company to crack some of these challenges in CAR-T is going to be a game-changer for the industry and for cancer patients.

One Australian company looking to address some of these challenges in CAR-T is Prescient Therapeutics, listed on the ASX (code: PTX).

Previously known for targeted therapies, Prescient recently announced its first foray into CAR-T via a collaboration with private Adelaide company Carina Biotech.  The collaboration will combine Prescient’s expertise in the development of targeted therapies with Carina’s promising CAR-T technologies to develop CAR-T combination therapies to treat a range of solid cancers. Prescient and Carina will share any resulting intellectual property from the collaboration.

This is the first step for Prescient in the burgeoning area of CAR-T, and Prescient represents the only exposure to this exciting field for ASX investors

CAR-T represents the ultimate personalised medicine, and by harnessing the incredible potential of the patient’s immune system, represents the greatest hope so far for conquering the war on cancer.

Prescient Therapeutics’ CEO Steven Yatomi-Clarke will be presenting a live investor briefing on Tuesday the 28th of January at 12pm. Book your spot.

Reach Markets have been engaged by PTX to assist with private investor management.


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