Cancers are usually characterized by rapid cell growth. In the early years of cancer research, this rapid growth was used as a marker to recognize cancer cells. Drugs, developed to target and kill all fast growing cells, often lead to undesired side effects, such as hair loss.
Thanks to huge advances in the understanding of the molecular biology of cancers, specific cellular features have been discovered that are associated with certain cancers. These discoveries have allowed for the development of targeted cancer therapies.
We take this approach even further by using living cells as therapy. This approach may bring two advantages:
The challenge for us is to train these cells to recognize and exclusively target the cancer cells and to multiply to the point where there are sufficient cells to form an effective defense.
We basically use two different approaches to generating cells that are capable of recognizing and targeting cancer cells.
We are currently using our T-cellerator® technology to generate investigational cellular therapy products that are capable of recognizing and targeting cancer cells.
Some cancers are strongly linked to viral infections. These viral markers can be found on the surface of the cancer cells and can easily be recognized by T cells, which our immune system generates to fight viral infections. However, these anti-virus immune cells are normally not sufficient in number and their effectiveness may be suppressed by the surrounding tumor tissue.
We have developed the T-cellerator technology to overcome these barriers and to train and expand naturally occurring T cells to fight virus-associated cancers.
Our approach to genetically modifying immune cells
Naturally occurring immune cells are very efficient at treating cancers that are associated with viruses, but many cancers are not virus-associated. To make these cancers treatable by cellular therapies, the immune cells need to be conditioned to recognize new, non-viral targets. We uses two types of gene manipulation to achieve this: