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Cancer
is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and a cure for it still
remains elusive. Currently, approximately 1 in 6 deaths in the world is
attributed to cancer 1 thereby making it a critical global concern.
Statistics shows that new cancer cases are expected to rise by 50% from 14 to
21 million and deaths from cancer to rise by up to 60% from 8 to 13 million in
the next twenty years. 2 Thus, researches regarding the advancement of cancer
treatments and its therapeutics would be crucial considering the constant
incline in new diagnosis each year.

 

Some
common treatments for cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and
immunotherapy. Surgery is the first line treatment for most cancers (eg:solid
tumours). However, this method of treatment becomes infeasible when the cancer
starts to metastasize to other parts of the body.

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More
focus has been placed in Immunotherapy in recent years as it causes less harm
to the body due to the less detrimental side effects it produces as compared
other cancer therapies. This is so as it utilizes the body’s own immune system
to fight cancer. Most immunotherapies are also more specific as it targets only
the cancer cells whereas therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy
affects normal cells as well, thereby making their side effects far more
adverse.

 

A major breakthrough in the field of
immunotherapy would be the CAR T-Cell Therapy whereby patient’s T Cells are
taken out, modified and mass produced in the lab before infusing them back into
the patient’s body to attack on cancerous cells that harbours the targeted
antigens on their surface. Many patients treated with this form of therapy
showed a high success rate and mostly, have complete remission thus far.  

However, since autologous T cells are mostly utilized in CAR T-Cell Therapy, it is highly expensive and time
consuming to optimize such individualised treatments. Hence, using T cells from
allogenic sources would be a more rational option as it can be used universally
as an off-the-shelf product, so as to cut cost and save time. The problem with
using allogenic T cells is that it causes immune rejection due to recognition
of foreign antigens by the immune system.

As such, more research should be placed
in the optimization of CAR T-Cell Therapy as remarkable responses obtained make
it seem like one of the most promising cancer treatments available, especially
for patients with advanced or relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia and large B-cell lymphoma. This could potentially
save the lives of many, when all existing cancer treatments  fails and would therefore be one of the most
important topic that that researchers in
Biology should address over the next decade.

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