T Cell Attack: Taking Down Cancer with Immunotherapy

Cell Therapy and Cell Engineering Facility

Investigators are looking for ways to make immunotherapy treatment with CAR T cells more effective.

This magnified image shows immune cells, in blue, attacking and killing mesothelioma cells, in magenta. (Cells have been artificially colored.)

The immune cells are specially modified white blood cells called CAR T cells. These cells are filtered from a patient’s blood, engineered to recognize cancer cells, and then returned to the patient’s body. Once infused back into the patient, they seek out and attack cancer cells. (CAR stands for chimeric antigen receptor, which is the part added to the T cell that enables it to recognize the cancer.)

This treatment approach is a type of immunotherapy. It shows promise for treating blood cancers such as leukemia as well as some solid tumors, including certain types of lung cancer, breast cancer, and mesothelioma.

The image is from the lab of physician-scientist Prasad Adusumilli, who is leading immunotherapy research using T cells that are modified to recognize mesothelin — a protein found on the surface of some tumors in the chest — and to attack those cells.

Learn more about Dr. Adusumilli’s research.