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Indian-American scientist engineers T-cells to treat pancreatic cancer


New York: In ground-breaking research, an Indian-American scientist has engineered T-cells — a type of immune cells — to break the pancreatic cancer’s physical and immunological walls using immunotherapy.

Dr Sunil Hingorani, member of the clinical research and public health sciences divisions at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and colleagues created T-cells with a high affinity to a relatively tumour-specific antigen.

Dr Hingorani looked for proteins — also found in the linings of the heart and lungs — that are expressed in unusually large amounts in the tumour cells and minimally expressed elsewhere.

The T-cells then were engineered to attack those. In the tests conducted on mice with pancreatic tumours, the engineered T-cells killed those cells over a 10-day period.

Additionally, Hingorani and his team have worked to develop an enzyme that can help defeat the tumour’s high interstitial pressures and potentially open the door for greater penetration and effectiveness of T cells and other types of agents.

By the end of the year, Dr Hingorani hopes to have the human version of the T-cell in clinical trials.

The findings were recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans, US.

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