2015 – 2016 ACGT Young Investigator, Yvonne Chen, MS, PhD, speaks about using engineered T-cells to cure leukemia in this video from May 2016.
Great progress has been made in harnessing a patient’s own immune cells to attack various cancers. Also known as Adoptive T-Cell therapy, immunology treatment harvests a patient’s T-cells [killer white cells] and reprograms them to recognize the cancer as a threat. Once returned to the body, these synthetic proteins bind to specific disease markers to destroy cancer cells. The reprogrammed cells use a dual-action protein known as a chimeric antigen receptor [CAR] that first recognizes the tumor and then seeks to destroy it. Dr. Chen studies Car-T therapy research to eradicate lymphoma and leukemia cancers. This treatment is particularly effective for patients who evidence the marker known as CD19, as these patients do not respond to conventional therapies. Several clinical trials have shown that CD19 CAR-T therapy consistently achieves positive outcomes, but there are still questions on the optimum parameters for success and too often studies depend on trial and error. Dr. Chen’s research aims to further examine the technique and develop a screening method to establish consistently high impact.
Dr. Yvonne Chen is at University of California, Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.