CAR-T (T cell chimeric antigen receptor), as an immune cell therapy has attracted worldwide attention including academics, doctors, patients and investors. However, what’s CAR-T exactly? What’s the background of it? What’s the current research status? And its future development trends?
CAR-T brings new dawn
People have been fighting against cancer since ancient times. Archaeologists have found a mummy died from cancer. Our beloved Premier died from cancer. The fruit president who used to shine in newspapers and magazines died from cancer. Beautiful actress in a drama is diagnosed with cancer. Maybe you have heard that cancer took an elder’s life, or you are even told that that lovely little boy Jack is also undergoing cancer treatment. You’ve just appreciated his talent show in that TV show few days ago! Following all these, astonishment and panic struck together. We try our utmost to fight against it with rounds of operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but they still could not withstand its fierce attacks. It perfectly showed people “While the priest climbs a post, the devil climbs ten.”
When the great news that Emily Whitehead was still alive came, people finally saw new hope in this war. This little girl was diagnosed with cancer when she was five, and underwent her first immunotherapy when she was six. Two years later, she was still healthy, and enjoy normal life as other kids, rolling on the grassland with her puppy, going to school, learning the piano， etc. Emily is accepting a crazy experimental therapy that has never been practiced on children: drawing her blood in which the doctors extracted the leucocytes, transforming these leucocytes with modified HIV and leading them to recognize and kill cancer cells, transfusing the transformed leucocytes back into little Emily’s blood circulation system.
After experiencing the nightmare of continuous high fever, little Emily broke free from the shackles of death and regained consciousness, which also means that scientists succeed in this crazy test.
The appearance of CAR helps people find an opportunity to reverse the situation in fighting against this invisible while ubiquitous disease. Although difficulties still exist in this brand new field, CAR-T immunotherapy is going to show its great potential in the future. We’ll see.