Engager T cells for the Adoptive Immunotherapy of Pediatric Malignancies
Using the patient's own immune system to fight cancers is one promising approach to improve outcomes for pediatric cancer patients, who do not benefit from current therapies. However, the body's immune defenses against cancers often fail because the cancers do not induce or actively inhibit immunity. We have developed a new approach to counteract these limitations by engineering killer T cells to secrete Engagers. Engagers recognize structures on cancer cells as well as on killer T cells. Once secreted, Engagers redirect engineered and "bystander" T cells to kill cancer cells.
We will generate Engager T cells for two pediatric malignancies, which are difficult to cure with current approaches, including recurrent leukemia and neuroblastoma. The antitumor activity of Engager T cells will be tested in preclinical models that closely mimic human disease. If our pre-clinical approach is successful and a clinical study with Engager T cells is justified, we have the resources to develop such a study at our center.