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CAR-T Meeting 2021 | Research projects within the EN-ACTI2NG program

Hisse M. van Santen, PhD, Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa, Madrid, Spain, gives an overview of the current research projects within the EN-ACTI2NG program. Dr van Santen describes the research into DNA and RNA aptamers to enhance the response of T-cells. Dr van Santen also discusses the research project comparing the performance of CAR T-cells and TCR T-cells against the same tumor antigen. Additionally, he highlights the project investigating how T-cells interact with their targets. This is particularly important to understand in order to develop new strategies to improve immunotherapies, such as CAR T-cell therapy. This interview took place during the 3rd European CAR T-cell Meeting.

Transcript (edited for clarity)

One of the, I think quite unique things we have done, or one of the groups from Pamplona in Spain, so they use what is called aptamers, so they are DNA or RNA structures, which you can select aptamers, which are specific for any molecule you want.

So they found molecules which binds to part of the T-cell receptor. The CAR is one thing, a T-cell receptor is sort of the more general way, which the T-cell communicates...

One of the, I think quite unique things we have done, or one of the groups from Pamplona in Spain, so they use what is called aptamers, so they are DNA or RNA structures, which you can select aptamers, which are specific for any molecule you want.

So they found molecules which binds to part of the T-cell receptor. The CAR is one thing, a T-cell receptor is sort of the more general way, which the T-cell communicates. And they could actually show that you can use these aptamers as in a way to enhance the response and that’s very interesting because CAR T-cell is one thing of addressing tumor immunotherapy, but T-cells themselves are very interesting as well. But they’re not always worked very well and that’s a more technical issue because the antigens they need to see, they don’t recognize them very well. And maybe these aptamers give these T-cells the extra boost so that they recognize better the tumor antigens and give a better response.

There’s another group who compared, actually did a direct comparison between CAR T-cells and normal T-cells against the same tumor antigen and to try to address when is one better than the other. That was, I think is very interesting as well because I think we’re getting in a stage where those type of questions are becoming important. Just the CAR T-cells have their limitations, normal T-cells have their limitations, and when do you want to use which one is very interesting. And the third talk was really, really a basic talk about what I told you, how do T-cells and their target interact? And understanding that is very important because that really makes us aware of what can you do with a CAR T-cell, what can you do with a normal T-cell? How can we improve things which we think could be better for immunotherapy? So those are the three things we highlighted and I guess in view of the time we can sort of stay with that.

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