Engineered CAR T-Cell Therapy
The immune system has evolved to protect the body from invading pathogens or external harmful materials by identifying these foreign bodies through “non-self” antigens, which are molecular signatures that they carry and are foreign to the body. A central function of the immune system is to discriminate between “self,” which is recognized through antigens normally present in the body and borne by cells, proteins, sugars or lipids, and “non-self”, which is detected through abnormal or foreign antigens. Cancer cells thrive, in part, because they trick the immune system into treating them as self, even though they express abnormal antigens, and thus immune tolerance occurs when the immune system fails to recognize and attack tumors. Breaking immune tolerance is an important aspect of most immuno-oncology based therapeutics because it enables the immune system to recognize and treat tumors as nonself and lead to tumor destruction.
Cellectis’ therapeutics programs are focused on developing products using our gene editing platform to develop genetically modified T-cells that express a Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR) and are designed to target and kill cancer cells. CARs are artificial molecules that, when present at the surface of immune effector cells, will enable them to recognize a desired protein, or antigen, and trigger the killing of cells harboring this antigen at their surface (target cells). Immune cells -most usually T lymphocytes- can be engineered to express a CAR able to recognize proteins present at the surface of cancer cells. Upon cell-to-cell contact between effector and targeted cells, antigen recognition will activate the effectors, giving them the signal to attack their targets, and leading ultimately to the killing of cancer cells.