New Research Aims to Improve CAR-T Cell Therapy Effectiveness

CARISMa scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt introduced innovative CAR therapy that recognizes and specifically kills tumor cells. This cancer therapy is the focus of new federally funded LOEWE research.

The new LOEWE network sets up in Hesse an innovative research program that is currently gathering steam all over the world. It also expands Goethe University’s existing research profile and broadens our network of cooperation partners in the field of CAR cell therapy [editor’s note: CAR is the abbreviation for chimeric antigen receptor]. The network deliberately builds on our university’s existing strengths in tumor biology, drug development, and clinical oncology. In addition, our 'Molecular and Translational Medicine' profile area will also receive new impetus from the cell therapy focus.”

Enrico Schleiff, President, Goethe University Frankfurt

One of the most exciting subfields in contemporary oncology and hematology is cell therapy. Through the introduction of the CAR vector, the patient's own immune cells undergo genetic modification during CAR therapy, giving them the ability to recognize and specifically kill tumor cells. Where other therapies have failed to treat leukemia and lymphoma, CAR therapy has proven effective.

On the other hand, it has been shown that so-called "solid" tumors, such as cancerous brain, pancreatic, and intestinal tumors, are generally resistant to this treatment.

The goal of the recently established LOEWE focus "Optimization of CAR cell therapies by influencing the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment," or CARISMa for short, is to advance the knowledge of the causes and preventative measures of solid tumor resistance.

The main areas of study are the precise interactions between CAR-T cells and the tumor as well as the tumor microenvironment, and the development of new CAR cell therapies to overcome this resistance. In order to achieve this, the project partners—who are currently collaborating on research—will collaborate even more across locations and disciplines.

The Georg Speyer Haus Institute for Tumor Biology and Experimental Therapy, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines), Philipps-Universität Marburg, the Baden-Württemberg-Hessen blood donor service, and Goethe University Frankfurt are the other partners in CARISMa.

Based on its collaboration with the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) and Frankfurt Cancer Institute (FCI), another LOEWE center, the new LOEWE focus will also forge synergies.

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