Childhood Cancer

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Improving CAR T-Cell Therapy for Pediatric Osteosarcoma by Manipulating Arginine Metabolism

Institution: 
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Researcher(s): 
Shannon Lange, PhD
Grant Type: 
Young Investigator Grants
Year Awarded: 
2019
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Osteosarcoma
Project Description: 

 Background:

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor in children and young adults. A combination of chemotherapy and surgery are the current standard of care. With this therapy, the outcome of patients, who have local disease is good. However, about one in five patients have tumors that have spread to other organs. The outcome for these patients, and those in which the disease  has come back, remains poor. Immunotherapy may be an ideal treatment option for these patients. We have previously developed a form of immunotherapy, which consists of immune cells, called T cells, that are engineered to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). CAR T cells seek out and kill tumor cells. We have tested our approach already in the clinic and while it was safe, not all patients benefited from our approach. In order to improve the anti-tumor activity of our CAR T cells, we propose here to enhance the ability to our T cells to function within tumors. Nutrients are critical for the function of immune cells like T cells. Within tumors, T cells normally do not get all the nutrients they need to function properly since tumor cells  take them up much faster.

Project Goal:

We now propose to engineer CAR T cells to be much better in taking up amino acids, which are critical building blocks for all cells that want to grow and divide. Specifically, we will focus on an amino acid called arginine, which is critical for
T cell function. We will test our approach in models that closely mimic human osteosarcoma. If our approach is successful, it could be readily incorporated into ongoing CAR T cell therapy studies not only for osteosarcoma but also other cancers.