June 1st, 2022
Recent breakthroughs allow a B-ALL patient's own immune cells to be trained to recognize and kill their leukemia. For example, Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy begins with isolating a cell type known as T cells from a B-ALL patient’s blood. These patient-derived T cells, which normally eliminate cells infected with viruses and bacteria, are engineered in a specialized laboratory to target a protein known as CD19, found on the B-ALL cell surface. CAR-T cells are then infused back into the B-ALL patient's body, where they search for CD19 present on B-ALL cells. Once CD19 is engaged, CAR-T cell destroys their B-ALL cell target.
The amount of CD19 protein present on B-ALL cells is critical for CAR-T cells to find their target. B-ALL cells expressing low surface CD19 levels may fail to be killed by CAR-T cells. To overcome this with the support of the Cancer League of Colorado, we will ask; which genetic pathways limit the amount of CD19 expressed by a B-ALL cell? Furthermore, can we inhibit these pathways and increase B-ALL surface CD19 protein levels, thus, helping CAR-T cell's find their target?
We would like to extend our appreciation to the Cancer League of Colorado for supporting the Witkowski laboratory in this endeavor.