New CAR T-cell therapy target identified for lung cancer and ovarian cancer

Jul 26, 2022
Devin Golden

Lung cancer is one of the two types of solid tumors that might have a newly discovered protein target for CAR T-cell therapy.

CAR T-cell therapy has been a game-changing treatment option for patients diagnosed with blood cancers. Will there be a similar revolutionary cell and gene therapy for solid tumors?

One task facing scientists is finding proteins expressed by cancers to target with CAR T cells. Researchers at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, identified a protein biomarker that might make CAR T cells effective against lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

Lung cancer and ovarian cancer are two common types of solid tumors. Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer (behind breast cancer). Ovarian cancer is the 10th most common type among women.

Both need more treatment options to help patients. Cell and gene therapies, such as CAR T-cell therapy, have the potential to improve survival rates. Read about some of the lung cancer and ovarian cancer research Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy is funding, which includes CAR T cells.

Your donation to Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy will help us identify and fund more exceptional science focused on using cell and gene therapy for cancer.

Finding targets for CAR T cells

CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T cells are created by separating T cells from a patient’s blood and sending the T-cell samples to a laboratory. Scientists then introduce the CAR gene to T cells. These cells are infused back into the patient, where they can replicate and form an army of cancer-fighting T cells.

The CAR gene serves as a GPS for the T cells to find cancers expressing a specific protein. Researchers at H. Lee Moffitt believe a CAR gene targeting a protein called olfactory receptor 2H1 (OR2H1) is the correct roadmap for at least two solid tumors.

OR2H1 as a CAR T-cell target

During laboratory testing, the researchers found OR2H1 is expressed in 69% of some solid cancer cell samples. Importantly, this protein was not prevalent on healthy tissue.

During testing with mice models, OR2H1-targeted CAR T cells killed lung and ovarian cancer cells expressing the protein. They also didn’t impact healthy tissue.

“Our work demonstrates the applicability of this therapy to a wide variety of patients, given the expression of OR2H1 in a subset of solid tumors across multiple histologies,” said Conejo-Garcia, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Immunology.

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