Cancer Initiation: Wingspans Antigens provide potential targets for CAR-T cell therapy

Friday, February 3, 2017

Wingspans Antigens provide potential targets for CAR-T cell therapy


The emergence of new advanced genetic engineering, even "editing" techniques has created new potential for engineered cancer therapies.  One approach that is receiving much attention is that of CAR T-cell therapy[1].  The acronym CAR stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor, where Chimeric means combination of different genomes, and Antigen Receptor refers to that Receptor that Targets a particular antigen on a target cell. In short, we engineer T-cells, portions of the immune system, to attack specific targets.

This is an enhancement of a natural system that exists between the immune system and cancer cells.  In short, all cells "of the body" or somatic cells, have repressed antigens called (my terminology) Wingspans antigens.I  These markers all have the property is that their sole (apparent) purpose is to attract the attention of the immune system, and  they are always epigenetically suppressed in normal cells. As cancer stage progresses, the cell goes through what is called "hypomethylation", or failure to suppress those antigens which are supposed to be suppressed. As such, these antigens become uniquely expressed on cancer cells. If the immune system has not been previously destroyed, an immune response will build up against the cancer.

Identification of Wingspans Antigens

With the advent of modern methylation oriented DNA sequencing techniques, such as bi-sulfite sequencing, it is possible not only to enumerate antigens that fit the description of "Wingspans Antigens", but specific tumor biopsy samples could be analyzed to find the best potential treatments.
  The logic is simple. As a cancer progresses, see which genes get turned on which should not be there.   Many Wingspans antigens have already been identified so they are easy to fine. Unknown antigens which have no other known function are candidates.

The Point

 These are two ideas that could and should be combined. The sequencing equipment for customized medicine is available, and new gene editing technques such as CRISPR makes designer "chimerics" a relative snap.


   Each time I read about a new high speed biomedical technique I cringe and think about the difficulties I had in the gene cloning/ gene expression laboratory courses I had. It was like having to paint a Da Vinci of a beautiful sunset, when all you really wanted was a cell phone with a camera.


[1] Dach, Jeffrey Steven A Rosenberg and Cancer Immunotherapy [JeffreyDachMD]

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