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02 August 2023

Funding awarded for cell tracking to safe guard CAR T-cell cancer therapy

Researchers from Kings College London and University College London have been awarded £500,000 from Cancer Research UK’s Multidisciplinary Project Award, to develop a novel PET imaging reagent for Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell in vivo tracking.

Cancer cells attacked by lymphocytes

CAR T-cell immunotherapy is a new type of cancer treatment in which a patient's T-cells (a type of immune or white blood cell) are modified in the laboratory so they will bind to the cancer cells and kill them.

One fundamental challenge in the successful development and clinical application of CAR T-cell based therapies, is the need to better understand their behaviour and location once they are injected into patients. Integrated imaging studies are essential to visualise the CAR T-cells in patients at the earliest stage of preclinical and clinical development of cell based treatments.

Utilising a non-invasive visualisation method, PET imaging, the study will develop indirect cell tracking probes to monitor the CAR T-cell immunotherapy. The project will provide important information about whether the therapeutic cells are safe to use, how they kill the cancer cells, and how effective the CAR T-cell based treatments are.

We are delighted to have received this funding. The new method can both provide vital information about the real-time on-target/off-target accumulation and persistence of the CAR T-cells in patients and, minimise the risk of causing severe toxicity. Additionally, this new imaging method will assist in the evaluation of both tumour response and possible toxic events in patients, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.

Dr Ran Yan, Senior Lecturer in Radiochemistry

The study is being co-led by researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering and imaging Sciences Dr Ran Yan, Dr John Maher and Dr James Arnold, and Prof. Erik Arstad, from the Centre for Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry, University College London.

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Ran  Yan

Senior Lecturer in Radiochemistry