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Are we on the path to a universal cancer immunotherapy?

Written by Francesca Lake (Editor-in-Chief)

Universal T cell

Recent discoveries of ‘universal’ T cells – avoiding HLA – could bring back the hope of an ‘off-the-shelf’, one-size-fits-all cancer immunotherapy.   Generally, T cells work through the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), which is highly variable between people and has prevented T cells being effectively harnessed as a catch-all therapy for cancers. Currently approved T-cell-based immunotherapeutics, CAR-T products, are person-specific, custom–made and costly – not the affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ therapeutic that would be ideal.   However, is an ‘off-the-shelf’ T-cell-based therapy for cancer even possible? Recent research suggests it could be, revivifying the abandoned hopes of a silver bullet for cancer.  With the polymorphicity of HLA the clear sticking point, some researchers have dived into solutions involving genome engineering; however, that comes with its own potential problems. Others have turned to T-cell receptors (TCRs) that avoid HLA altogether.  A hidden savior? ...

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