BC Cancer Agency
Victoria, British Columbia
Mutual Antibody T cell Engagers (MATEs): a safe, flexible alternative to CAR-T cells for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma
The world has seen a major breakthrough in the treatment of leukemias and lymphomas using “CAR-T cells”, a new strategy in which T cells are genetically engineered to express “Chimeric Antigen Receptors” that enable them to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Remarkably, CAR-T cells are achieving 50-90% response rates in patients with advanced leukemias and lymphomas expressing a marker called CD19. Despite these unprecedented results, the current version of CAR-T cells can bring serious side effects. Moreover, a significant number of patients eventually relapse after CAR-T cell treatment. The goal of this project is to develop a safer, more flexible alternative to CAR-T cells, which we refer to as “Mutual Antibody T cell Engagers”, or MATEs. Our approach will give clinicians exquisite, failsafe control over the number and activity of engineered T cells after they are infused into the patient’s bloodstream. It will also enable clinicians to aim the T cells at different targets on tumours, minimizing the risk of relapse. This will not only provide a safer and more effective alternative to CAR-T cells, it will enable application to a wide range of malignancies that otherwise cannot be safely targeted. Thus, the MATEs strategy will ultimately yield a new arsenal of highly selective immunotherapies for a broad range of cancers.